Redeveloping Eternitten in Aalborg

Description of the practice: 



Eternitten area is an example of a previously flourishing industry that by now have closed down and moved abroad. Eternitten is located on the borders of the inner city of Aalborg, at the fringes of the city center – the located there was Danish Eternit - established in 1927 and for the main part of its active lifespan. The factory had its peak in the 1960s, but due to globalization, the business slowly died out. In 2004, the company was sold and the production of building materials ended. The approximate size of the area is 363.000 m2 – the physical terrain is extensively marked by the former industrial usage as well as the considerable height difference between the lowest point in the northern section and the eastern section which is highest.

In 2001, developer FLSSmidt (FLS) who owned Eternitten at the time, approached Aalborg’s mayor regarding the change in the area’s usage – resulting in a rough plan including the potential cleanup and timeline of future developments. Initial planning considerations for Eternitten were drawn in 2002 by Nybolig real estate and COWI expressing the potential zoning of the area as well as road layout and possible usage. FLS reached an agreement with the City of Aalborg with a holistic plan for the Eternitten area in 2004 – previous plans of splitting the area in plots did not succeed.


To redevelop the industrial site as a unique place that captures the aura of Eternitten with residential buildings, mixed-use urban space and industrial sector by cooperation between developers, City of Aalborg as well as local residents



Two workshops organized for public opinion about the future of Eternitten

In March 2005, Aalborg held eight-week public debate concerning the future of Eternitten where citizens were encouraged to voice their opinions regarding the future potential of the area. Another workshop was held in April 2005 with the focus on what buildings should be preserved as well as coming up with suggestions regarding the planning process about public participation. Creative class becomes the most prominent choice of a target group in the area. The main aim was to capture the spirit of Eternitten while redeveloping the area – including residential housing.

Holistic redevelopment strategy that complimented Aalborg’s vision

Resulting in creating a holistic redevelopment strategy for Eternitten, prepared in cooperation by Aalborg’s planning department, FLS, C.F. Moller architects and COWI and the final strategy was completed in 2006. The document had the status of a supplement document to the current municipality framework where it concretises Aalborg’s vision for the area. The strategy pays homage to the debate that took place over the future vision of Eternitten and acknowledges that many of the proposals put forth in the workshops have acted as inspiration to the final output of the strategy. Strategy outlines the urban intentions for the area, including building density, the outline of what kind of housing will be allowed, history/culture consideration and guidelines regarding both environmental and traffic conditions. The strategy splits the area into distinct framework sectors – two areas marked mixed use, industrial area and finally a residential area. According to the strategy, the future usage of each section is calculated from structural consideration, architectural coordination and evaluation of the landscape context.


Eternitten’s strategic location is identified as possessing a unique potential for the city and as a result, stretch the ambitions for the area beyond the location itself. The main goals and visions put forth in the strategy stress the will of Aalborg to stand out among other comparable cities. Redevelopment of Eternitten will push Aalborg towards a modern and future-oriented city.  Three specific groups as future residents of Eternitten – the creative class, the young generation, the modern city family.


On July 1st 2006, Sören Enggaard and Svend Pepe reached an agreement with FLS to buy plot 4.2.B8 within Eternitten. An agreement was made between Sören Enggaard and Aalborg that made COWI responsible for overseeing the development of a vision and building plans for the area that would serve as the foundation of the local plan. Three years later or in May 2009, Aalborg city council accepted the local plan for the area. Due to economic recession at that time, City of Aalborg gave a quota to subsidized housing that could have been used for developing the site. According to Annette Rosenbaek, project manager over the Eternitten project, resulted this intervention in a totally different development then Aalborg had hoped for in the beginning. In 2010, Norresundby Housing Association reached an agreement with Sören Enggaard to build 50 residential units within B1 area of 4.2.B8 with financial support from Aalborg. Of these 50 residential units, two third were to be traditional terraced houses. According to Sigvart Sigvartsen, director for Norresunby housing associations, Eternitten is the ideal placement for future urban growth within the city. Sigvart maintains that it has been far too long since terraced houses have been built so close to the city center and argues that such development will attract a lot of interest, especially from families with children. August 26th 2010 the groundbreaking for the new residential units was performed. 

Today, Eternitten is a renewed and lively area with cafés, businesses, homes and green spaces. Image rights: