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SLA's 'urban playgrounds'

SLA Landscape Architects' belief and evident in their designs of urban space is the importance of considering children, as they say - 'children experience and use the city differently to adults'.

"I want my son to sense the world in all its different colours and textures; I want to create a space open to young children's fantasy when playing." Says Stine Poulsen, a young mother and one of SLA's designers (Designing Modern Childhoods, 2008).

Charlotte Garden 
Hjørringgade, Copenhagen, Denmark
Completed in 2004

A dune and sea-like landscape the garden contains a variety of different grasses such as meadow grass, festuca glauca, seslevia and molina caerulea.

A textural and sensory space - the garden moves, billows and changes pattern - the colours changing with the seasons. The different and changing spaces are held together by paths which cross through the garden.

Christianshavn, Copenhagen, Denmark
Completed in 2008

SLA has designed this curvy courtyard to contrast with the 'modern iconic' edgy building. Different types of vegetation in altering heights and different textures and colours creates a changing and sensory experience for the courtyard's users.
The courtyard enables a range of new activities including an adventure playground space for the children and enhances a sense of community for all of the residents.

The City Dune / SEB Bank
Copenhagen, Denmark
Completed in 2010

SLA was commissioned to design an urban space to accompany the new SEB bank headquarters situated above an underground carpark and on the corner of two heavy-traffic streets. The urban space was to tie the headquarters with the surrounding area, the harbour and the rest of Copenhagen.

SLA created an accessible, green and welcoming 'open foyer' for the public and employees of the bank. The 'dunes' create a folding movement - the contour of the terrain enables a variety of routes and creating an ever-changing urban space.

North West Park
Copenhagen, Denmark
Completed in 2010

The goal for the new North West Park was to inject a little adventure into the surroundings. A culturally diverse area with many of the inhabitants poor and unemployed - the area had little public life and high rates of crime and pollution.

SLA's design was an opportunity for the area's residents to reinvent themselves and to transform a vast, fenced, empty space into a place where people of all ages could meet. With a magical mix of lights, colours, trees, poetry, and even small mountains - new stories and adventures were introduced.

The park consists of four simple elements: trees, paths, light, and cone-shaped mounts - creating order and coherence between the park's many parts - and a sense of exploring nature.

63 different tree species from all over the world provide colour in the park all year round and reflects the multi-cultural nature of the area.

Children from the surrounding schools were invited to write poems about their vision for the area and can now be seen on the asphalt path that runs through the park.

The park embraces and welcomes everyone - creating a unique identity for the community to call their own.

Holbæk, Denmark
Completed in 1998

In partnership with the area's housing residents SLA have created an outdoor garden space that filled the request of "more intimacy and opportunities for more uses that the existing open lawn can offer". The area is therefore remodeled into a moraine-like landscape giving the park a new identity.

The space includes: rose gardens, a rubber playland, herb gardens, a rolling skater track, fruit grove and sand gardens - all offering sensory experiences and possibilities.

"We have very little damage in our green areas. The collaboration between the residents and the building society ensures that we all take care of the area" (Niels Hansen, Residents' Committee member).

Sønder Boulevard
Copenhagen, Denmark
Completed in 2010

The existing boulevard is revitalised through a process of comprehensive community participation - who decided on activities and uses to be incorporated.

Trekroner School
Roskilde, Denmark 
Completed in 2002

The playground is conceived as a 'garden of knowledge' framed by the school buildings with no corridors, meaning that everyone has to go outside and feel the weather and the changes of nature.

The outdoor space plays a large part in children's development, well-being, learning and social exchange. Therefore SLA have used a varied and interesting contoured play-scape which encourages the children to move in many different ways and play together.

In May 2005, Søren Nagbøl and Mogens Hansen from the Institute for Educational Sociology, Denmark’s University of Education, presented current research at a meeting for the school’s parents which indicates that the pupils of Trekroner:

- move more
- use larger areas of the playground
- play together more across the genders than in other playgrounds in the project

Children create space for movement

There has in recent years been increased interest on how the physical environment can stimulate children to move more, yet seldom are children consulted in the design process. SLA ran a project 'Children create space for movement' that shows how children can participate in the planning and transformation of the environments they use in daily life.

A four-day workshop will result in a built outdoor space where the children define which experiences and activities the area will contain and where the project group will translate the inputs from the children into a cohesive design. Later, a follow-up workday is to be held where the children will offer feedback and the chance to participate in the detailing of features such as benches and dens.

Via SLA Architects and Designing Modern Childhoods.


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