Gladsaxe: Recreation and Adaptation Go Hand-in-Hand

With an area equivalent to 200 soccer fields, the Gladsaxe Heights Nature Park is one of the largest climate adaptation projects in Denmark. The 142-hectare water catchment area handles rainwater from roads, 2,700 households, and a sports center. While reducing the risk of combined sewer overflow, the area consists of blue and green surface solutions serving as both climate adaptive and recreational spaces.

99 tons CO2 reduced annually from an increase in bicycle traffic on the city’s new bicycle paths


The project comprises a number of interconnected sub-projects, including an outdoor sports center with nine rainwater basins designed for different activities. ‘Paddle tennis’ courts, skateboarding areas and climbing frames all act as rainwater reservoirs during intense rain but for the majority of the time provide fun recreational spaces for children. The project also includes a non-profit social housing association that has developed a rainwater distribution system independent of traditional wastewater infrastructure, reducing total volumes for the system to process during cloudburst events.

The challenge

Growing massively in the ’50s and ’60s, Gladsaxe built a combined sewer system. Yet, with increased rainfall in recent years, the city struggled with combined sewer overflow and, in 2011, one extreme weather event led to damages of more than $900 million in Copenhagen. Avoiding similar losses in the future, the city is implementing blue-green solutions targeting sewer issues and providing climate benefits.


Environmental The city has developed trench wells with a special valve construction for winter changeover, so that during winter, when temperatures fall below ℃ and roads need salting, any road runoff water is led to the wastewater sewer, preventing the road salt from causing damage to nearby ecosystems.

Social Dubbed “the girls’ room,” an area with swings, hammocks, and nets for climbing, has become a popular meeting point for the city’s teenage girls, a group who previously rarely used the area.

Health With a great focus on physical activity as a dual function of the rainwater solutions, the city improves public health. The city’s bicycle path alone has seen a 30% increase in use.

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