Superkilen Park by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Copenhagen

Whimsical Wonders: 8 Design Projects Proving That Copenhagen Is One of the World’s Most Playful Cities

Copenhagen’s vibrant cityscape showcases playful architecture, innovative urban planning and captivating landscape designs.

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Copenhagen is not just a city; it’s a playground of architectural wonders. With its colorful buildings and creative urban spaces, the Danish capital has become one of the world’s most vibrant cities, bringing joy to residents and visitors with its playful architecture. Every corner holds unique features, offering countless memorable moments that are waiting to be uncovered. As you wander through the city, you might encounter the trampolines along the Havnegade Harbour Promenade, which is meant to transform the industrial harbor area into a vibrant public space, adding an element of fun to the urban landscape. Additionally, commuting by bike might add a playful twist to your daily routine, and joining the crowd of cyclists on their way to work becomes a shared experience.

If you ever find yourself in Copenhagen, the urban features highlighted in this article are definitely worth exploring. These landmarks are exceptional showcases of playful architecture, urban planning, and landscape design, embodying Copenhagen’s dedication to creativity and diversity and tapping into the universal spirit of play that lives within us all.

Tietgen Dormitory

By Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects, Copenhagen

The circular design of this Danish student dormitory features playful balconies that zigzag around the building, creating a dynamic and inviting façade. Beyond its eye-catching exterior, the Tietgen Dormitory incorporates nature into its design through a spacious central courtyard. Strategically staggered windows and balconies overlooking the courtyard provide residents with views of the central area and each other, encouraging social engagement as students stroll, jog, and gather, thereby reinforcing a strong sense of community and belonging.

Superkilen Park

By Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Topotek 1 and Superflex, Copenhagen

With its expansive red-toned square, Superkilen park stands out for its diverse and vibrant urban design. This urban square is full of interactive installations sourced from various countries around the world. It serves as a dynamic public space where people of different backgrounds come together to socialize, play and experience a unique blend of cultures. With its colorful bike lanes and vibrant playground equipment, each element encourages interaction, creating a dynamic space where people of all ages can engage and play.

Panda House

By Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Copenhagen

Panda House by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Copenhagen

Panda House by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Copenhagen, Denmark

The Panda House in Copenhagen Zoo is designed to mirror the panda’s natural habitat. It provides a tranquil living space for these rare mammals while addressing crucial breeding challenges, all within the historic confines of one of Europe’s oldest zoos. The building’s soft and playful organic shapes mimic the rolling landscape, creating a dynamic and engaging environment for both visitors and the resident pandas. Inside, the various levels and viewpoints provide opportunities for discovery and interaction with the animals. The facilities are designed to blend with the landscape while offering direct views into the pandas’ habitat, enabling visitors to observe zoo operations while exploring the undulating perimeter paths.

Cirkelbroen (Circle Bridge)

By Studio Olafur Eliasson, Copenhagen

Cirkelbroen (Circle Bridge) by Olafur Eliasson, Copenhagen

Cirkelbroen (Circle Bridge) by Studio Olafur Eliasson, Copenhagen, Denmark

Cirkelbroen is more than just a bridge; it’s a work of art. Its playful design features interconnected circular platforms that gently rise and fall with the tides, creating a mesmerizing and unique experience for pedestrians and bikers. The playful curves and rhythmic movements of the bridge invite exploration and interaction, encouraging people to pause, linger and appreciate the surrounding waterfront landscape from unique vantage points.

Copenhill (Amager Bakke)

By Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Copenhagen

Copenhill (Amager Bakke) by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Copenhagen

Copenhill (Amager Bakke) by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Copenhagen, Denmark

This groundbreaking project combines a waste-to-energy plant with a recreational facility, featuring a ski slope, hiking trails, climbing wall and rooftop park. Its playful features include an artificial ski slope that mimics the feel of a real one, offering visitors the opportunity to ski, snowboard and toboggan year-round, providing a unique recreational experience within an urban setting. Copenhill’s playful architecture not only promotes physical activity and social interaction but also challenges traditional notions of waste management and urban design, demonstrating the potential for sustainability and creativity in shaping the built environment.

Islands Brygge Harbour Bath

By PLOT Architects (now JDS Architects), Extension by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Copenhagen

Islands Brygge Harbour Bath by PLOT Architects (now JDS Architects), Copenhagen

Islands Brygge Harbour Bath by PLOT Architects (now JDS Architects), Extension by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Copenhagen, Denmark

Islands Brygge Harbour Bath is a playful reinterpretation of the traditional swimming pool that consists of a series of floating islands and platforms that provide the city with various swimming and sunbathing areas. Its interconnected pools, ramps and platforms provide endless opportunities for swimming, sunbathing and socializing, contributing to the revitalization of the waterfront area. The bath’s integration with the surrounding waterfront landscape, allow people to enjoy the natural beauty of the harbor while engaging in water-based activities.

Children’s Culture House Ama’r

By Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter

The Children’s Culture House, designed as an extension of the neighboring buildings, serves as an enriching environment for children to learn, play and grow. Its roof and façade mirror each other, creating a harmonious architectural expression. Geometric shapes and irregular angles resemble a mountain village, a giant playground captivating young visitors’ attention and curiosity instantly. The interior is characterized by open, flexible layouts, allowing for spontaneous play, exploration and discovery. The space was created through collaborative workshops involving both adults and children, resulting in dynamic environments aimed at sparking children’s imagination and creativity.

Karen Blixens Plads

By Cobe

Karen Blixens Plads by Cobe

Karen Blixens Plads by Cobe, Copenhagen, Denmark

An outstanding example of playful architectural design is manifested in the layout of this public square. This “carpet-like” plaza features undulating topography that invites visitors to climb, sit, run, and engage with the landscape, while the playful arrangement of benches and seating areas encourages social interaction. The gently rolling landscape, facilitates fluid movement, featuring small hills that delineate specific areas for various activities. This includes three bicycle hills, functioning as both a lively gathering spot and welcoming public area, alongside providing ample space for bicycle parking.

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