Cortex Park, or ‘City of Knowledge’ as it is named in Danish, is an architectural manifestation of our human desire to share with and learn from each other. Not only does this satisfy our social nature, but it also enhances the knowledge we have when seen through different perspectives and areas of expertise. ADEPT has made such interactions and exchanges possible in the Cortex Park by encouraging meetings between researches, staff and students through the multitude of shared spaces connecting the four main building volumes. What is especially fascinating about ADEPT’s Cortex Park is their acknowledgement of physical activity as an important contributor to our mental capacities; as a symbol for this, a large sports hall spans over the four buildings, lighting up in the dark as the building’s ‘enlightening identity’.
The Cortex Park has been organized to accommodate a mixture of researchers, staff and students. An office hotel, various prototype labs and business incubators, as well as office and meeting rooms and a public café, are all distributed within four separate buildings. Each building has its own quirky façade pattern from Graphic Concrete, a manufacturer that casts prefabricated concrete elements with a graphic illustration. The contrast between a smooth concrete surface and exposed concrete aggregate results in a varied tactile and visual experience with every facade, despite their shared materiality. In addition to this, each building has two out of their four facades facing into an indoor courtyard, contributing to the fluid progression the Cortex Park has between its exterior and interior. ADEPT’s design is constantly working with dualities; inner and outer, heavy and light, body and mind, knowledge and movement. The relationship between the heavy volumes of the four concrete ‘houses’ and the light crisscrossing staircases hanging in between in an example of one of those dualities.
The buildings’ connecting circulation is an essential part of the indoor courtyard, contributing with layered movement and energy that is the essence of an urban environment and which makes ‘the square’, Cortex Park’s central space – a shared and flexible common area. It can double as a meeting space, or perhaps a concert hall; given that it is part of a building that is meant to breed innovation, the sky is the limit. This idea of a blank, of a space that can be owned by multiple individuals, is one that we most commonly see in our public urban spaces. It is clear that ADEPT has kept this in mind when designing Cortex Park, as seen through the unclear transition between exterior and interior, and the inner courtyard with its crossing sound and movement; indoor balconies facing towards ‘the square’, is another allusion to our cities that connect people seated in different buildings.
“Placing the sports facilities as a ‘roof’, spanning between the four houses, we create a both physical and mental experience of sharing, as well as a new hybrid between knowledge and movement.”
Lighting up the building’s social core is a large skylight, sandwiched between the sports hall and the rooftop terrace. ADEPT calls Cortex Park ‘a building designed for the challenge of both mind and body’, which is especially clear in its rooftop construction. Daylight, which is so crucial to the health of the human body, and by consequence the human mind, plays a major role in the layout of Cortex Park. Not only does it project into ‘the square’ through the skylights, it also passes through the transparent walls of the sports hall, the real architectural statement of the connections between our bodies and minds. In a ‘City of Knowledge’, the beacon of light does not come from its meeting rooms, or its courtyard; it comes from the sports hall, elevated above the rest.
When darkness falls, it lit up to tell the story of an active environment for education, research and movement – around the clock.