Public space where children can play and good well-designed play equipment can be found all over Copenhagen. Many apartment buildings have courtyards with play areas but all parks, most public squares and many streets have play areas. Public buildings, particularly libraries, will have play equipment in an area outside and, of course, play areas inside.
In some parts of the city, the provision of play areas has had a much wider influence on traffic control and the wider urban landscape of the area and perhaps what is most important is that these areas are not fenced off or locked up but, even when they are part of a school, these play areas will often be open and available for all the local kids in the evening and at weekends.
One of the most extensive and most interesting schemes is around Guldberg Byplads north of the city centre. This was and is not the most affluent part of Copenhagen and relatively rapid and relatively cheap development in the late 19th and early 20th century has meant that historically the area has not had as many open or green spaces as other parts of the city.
At the centre of the scheme is Guldberg School, a large brick block dating from the early 20th century and running back from Prinsesse Charlottes Gade with a public bath (shut in 2010) to its north and further west side the fine church of Simeons Kirke designed by Johannes Magdahl Nielsen that was completed in 1914. To the north of the school are large apartment blocks and to the east, between the those apartments and Prinsesse Charlotte Gade, was the school yard.
The area in front of the school and church has been closed to through traffic and is now a large public square with play equipment.
The Copenhagen architects Nord redesigned the school yard so it is now open to the street with general access for children living nearby who can use the ball court at the centre or the climbing frames and an amazing sculpture by Hans Henrik Øhlers. Parents, meeting their kids from school, sit and chat while their children play.
Across the east end of yard with a frontage to Meinungsgade is a community centre and after school facility known as Universet (Universe) designed by JJW architects. To take up as little ground space as possible, the main rooms are on the upper floor with a glazed area at ground level so that views through are not blocked but the much smaller footprint of the ground floor means that there are covered or sheltered areas at each end for play. Open staircases at each end are for access to the flat roof where there is more open space.
There is an amazing tube slide down from the roof … I’m oh so tempted but at 6’2” I’m not sure my body is designed to get round those tight turns.