Jaegersborg Deer Park
By Jeppe Villadsen, journalist, 2006
The green paradise of the middle classes
Just ten kilometres north of the centre of Copenhagen, Jaegersborg Deer Park extends like a ten square kilometre natural paradise. The hills, the plains, the Hermitage Hunting Lodge and more than 2,000 deer give the Deer Park a grandiose character that is not found anywhere else in Denmark.
For more than a century, the easy access combined with the great natural experiences has made the Deer Park Denmark’s most visited and loved wood. There is a direct relationship between the 19th century - when the annual picnic to the Deer Park was the most important event of the year for many Copenhagen families - to our time when seven million people visit the park every year.
The park of the middle classes
The Deer Park, as it looks today, is the result of the efforts of Rudolph Rothe, the first Royal Garden Inspector, to transform the area from forestry and hunting grounds to a park for modern citizens. In 1843 it was decided that the Deer Park should no longer be used for forestry, but be treated as a “recreational forest”. The idea was now primarily to preserve and strengthen the picturesque beauty of the area. The trees were left to become ancient, fall down and go through a natural rotting process.
The epitome of idyll
Since then, with its oaks, deer and small lakes, the Deer Park has represented a picture of Denmark which is seen by many as the essence of what is genuinely Danish, and the park has been portrayed by numerous painters and poets over the years.
In addition, the woods surrounding the Deer Park have given rise to the development of some of the country’s most attractive residential areas - with regard to both architectural and landscape qualities. In particular, Arne Jacobsen’s buildings from the 1930s and 1940s have helped to create a special area reflecting a Denmark that was heading for a new, light, modern and more liberal era.
Did you know?
The hermit castle is the most famous building in Dyrehaven. The castle's name is due to the special "table machine" that architect Lauritz de Thurah decorated in the castle's dining room. The table was lowered into the kitchen to be covered with food, and then raised again. Then one could eat without being disturbed by servants; an ermitage (in solitude). The table machine no longer exists.
The committee's justification
By the Committee for Architecture, 2006
In the middle of the 19th century, Denmark examined its sense of identity, and one of the visible results is the conversion of Jægersborg Dyrehave from the 18th century hunting park to the modern public park. Denmark has based a large part of its cultural identity on its cultivated landscape. As a representation of this, Dyrehaven’s idealised, stylised, artistic form is of inalienable value. Dyrehaven is an indispensable architectural work of great beauty and strength that has shaped generations’ views on poetry, painting, architectural and landscape art. With its fences and red gates, avenues and enclosures which frame the Hermitage rock’s moving floor, accentuated by oak and beech massifs and Lauritz de Thurah’s Hermitage Hunting Lodge, Dyrehaven is the epitome of architecture as spatial art, with its art of cultivation that can create fertile ground for cognition.
The forests around Dyrehaven have also become some of the country’s most attractive residential areas, as regards the quality of its architecture and landscape. Staunings Plæne, Hvidøre Strandpark (C.Th. Sørensen and Povl Baumann) and Bellevue Strand with its changing rooms, lifeguard tower, Bellevue Theatre, the Bellavista apartment buildings and Søholm’s townhouses (Arne Jacobsen), in addition to the new Strandvej, which offers magnificent views along the coast of Zealand, comprise a very special area providing modern, friendly, carefree living with light, fresh air and spaciousness. Dyrehaven and Bellevue can be seen as a testimony of Danish architecture’s rewriting and embedding of international thoughts and creations.