Teen Playground, KATOxVictoria, Slangerup Denmark, 2013

In 2013 KATOxVictoria was selected as 1 of 4 young Danish architecture offices tasked with realizing a Danish project that had been proposed by local citizens, and moving from idea to installation in just three months with a limited budget.  

They met the challenge in Slangerup, about an hour from Copenhagen, where the local youth school (12 to 16 year olds) had no provision for play–making them “lazy and bored’–with the construction of a courtyard hangout, a stadium with grandstands, a skate ramp, and a ‘monkey mountain’ jungle gym set in sand.  

“The balance here was to create some kind of Teenage Architecture which wouldn’t dictate a certain use.. like playgrounds…These are not kids but young adults. How to create structures that are open for any kind of personal use and exploration….the teenagers were central in the whole projects from beginning to end. They defined the initial problems, they joined us in our office for sketching and they were on the construction site building the structures along with parents and teachers with an immense feeling of ownership…during the 4 weeks of construction we moved the entire office to Slangerup with office space in a spare classroom and rooms at the local metal school.”

The involvement of the teens in the design and construction process is truly impressive:  don’t miss the construction photos.

Note that each one of the installations has significant ‘audience’ space…the grandstands at the basketball court, the great geometric steps by the skate ramps, even the solid parts of the pavilion on the monkey mountain.  Teens basically want a space to hang out, and to show off.   To keep them happy, a play area must have designated seating space for an audience, which also conveniently serves simply as hang-out space when no one is ‘performing’.

“We wanted to make something that could reflect the emotional drama that floats around a teenager, so we made big things in robust materials that can be used in various ways. We hope that the teenagers will occupy the areas in their own way; in short, everything you do when you are learning to embrace yourself and the world you build up around you.”

I love to see play spaces that address the needs of older children.  Well done, KATOxVictoria.

[Photos by Rasmus Hjortshøj; see also an interview with the architects at wallpaper]

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