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Superkilen – A designed urban space celebrating diversity

Superkilen play space in Copenhagen

For true urban play, Superkilen is an inventively rendered park and community space that is deservedly held in high esteem by the design and architecture press. With diversity celebrated through its design and its use, it occupies a huge wedge-shaped piece of land between apartment buildings and busy streets around and between Nørrebrogade and Tagensvej.

Often a feature of Instagram, it’s carved up into three distinct zones that gather around the long cycleway coiling through the park, and is peppered with references to, and inspiration from, the 57 cultures that live in the area, and who have been active in shaping it.

Working from Nørrebrogade – serviced by a multitude of buses from the city centre – the first area is the Red Zone, which is punctuated by neon signage set high up on stilts, whose graphics references Russian and Chinese iconography. The skater-populated ground is coloured red and so is the play equipment, the highlight of which are circle swings embedded with benches that are reminiscent of vintage seaside resorts. The Red Zone is also home to Nørrebrohallen, a community centre with what looks like a great café (and toilets!) and an indoor football hall, at one end of which are accessible climbing walls for kids.

On from the Red Zone and crossing a street, the monochromatic, much-photographed Black Market’s charcoal ground is laced with white stripes – uniform where they start at the top of a small hill in the distance, and splaying out and heading in different directions as they hit ground level. This is naturally a favourite spot for kids who love scooters and biking.

The Black Market also hosts chess tables and barbecue grills for people to gather together around, and its multi-cultural elements include a fountain from Morocco, palm trees from China and – adored by my boys – a glossy black play structure inspired by a Japanese toy octopus that looks like Darth Vadar’s mask. On two corners that face the Black Market are cafés – useful for snacks or pitstops.

Over the Black Market’s lined hillock, grass suddenly appears, and you’re in the Green Zone, a more traditional picnic-and-play area with a kind of circus-style red-and-white structure at its heart. We only head here for the incredibly long swings, but otherwise my kids have never felt there’s much to write home about in this part of the wedge.

Superkilen’s total area amounts to 30,000 square metres – yet it’s every corner and detail is thought through and tells of life elsewhere, from the benches to the rubbish bins and everything in between. Playing here among the colour-coded graffiti and cultural references makes for an easy half-day – and one that’s always well spent.

Address

Nørrebrogade 208
2200 København N

 


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