Park and Play, a new building concept by JAJA
When an architecture project can transform an area of a city, it means that it is a very good project. JAJA Architects designed a building that transforms our understanding of public space: a park and play building.
What makes it so special is the fact that it is located at a lofty 24 meters above sea level atop a multilevel car park, representing a concept that fundamentally transforms our understanding of the design of public spaces.
The challenge was to create a new central parking facility that would blend in seamlessly with the surrounding luxurious residential buildings in Nordhavn, now one of Copenhagen’s most exclusive districts.
The approach taken by JAJA architects was to design a structure that, in the words of the main designer and co-founder of JAJA, Kathrin Susanna Gimmel “doesn’t just take space, it gives space too.” And the result is a parking house with most unusual façade and a flat rooftop with a multifunctional character.
Taking inspiration from the external stairways on the iconic Centre Pompidou, the centre has long, zigzagging staircases that climb from the ground floor to the roof on both the north and south sides of the building. The red handrails used for the stairs are also present on the roof and this theme is taken up again in the case of the various play elements.
Oversized red handrails curve around the playground space and serve to support swings, benches and elements to dangle from. Finally, visitors are led to what, in all senses of the term, is the high point of the rooftop playground: a nearly 8-metre high climbing pyramid designed and built by the Berlin-based Berliner Seilfabrik.
This is ascended with the help of a black horizontally aligned net that coils around a central mast and that becomes increasingly narrower as it rises ever higher, culminating in a pointed end. The ‘red handrail’ theme is similarly employed in this sculpture-like feature. In this instance, the spiralling steel tubing provides both the external casing and the attachment sites for the net.
Another remarkable aspect of this structure is that, despite its height of almost 8 metres, it has a free height of fall of just 2.10 metres. This is attributable to its configuration: because the net pathway in the lower section is wider than in the upper section, anyone unlucky enough to fall off would simply fall onto the net below.
It is quite apparent that the new rooftop playground is a crowd-puller. As Gimmel points out; “You’ll find people out here on the roof even on a cold winter’s day.” And that’s really saying something in Denmark!