Parking garages and playgrounds are a counter-intuitive combination. But the ingenious Park 'n' Play design by Danish firm Jaja Architects manages to combine the two uses in one Copenhagen building, all while keeping cars and children very safely separated.
The Nordhaven district in Copenhagen, Denmark, is undergoing urban regeneration. Expected to house 40,000 people when complete, it is being built as a compact living center alongside former dockyards. And while it will have apartments, offices and parking stations, neighborhoods need human-scale meeting places, and that’s where the Park ‘n’ Play design comes in. The design is the winner of a competition run by Copenhagen’s City and Port Authority, which required an appealing façade to be fitted over the exterior of standard-issue city parking lots.
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The city has built many of their efficiently designed parking garages before. They’d also noticed that their interior ramps were popular with joggers looking to intensify their workout in an otherwise flat city. The competition brief was to turn a high-rise parking lot into a destination for newly installed locals. Jaja’s solution was to build a playground on the roof, build a clearly delineated access staircase on the exterior and then clad the utilitarian structure in lush plantings. As partner Kathrin Susanna Gimmel stated, “One of the design challenges was how to make people aware that something is happening on the rooftop. How do you bring them up there, since the activity on the ground floor and the top floor are not connected?”
The staircase is a remarkable feature in itself, and will have stunning views of the city and its harbor once the building is completed. To encourage people to continue to use the stairs for exercise (rather than the decidedly riskier interior ramps) clocks will be installed at intervals to help track time. There will also be graphic treatments on the ground to be used for CrossFit workouts and the like. But it is the playground that is the destination. With wading pools, seating areas, spectacular views, swings and other playground equipment, it will be a perfect place for families to gather, play, exercise and socialize, turning a structure that could have been an urban blight into the living center of a new community.
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Images by JAJA Architects