A Safe Haven

Unique Kindergarten in Copenhagen District Designed By COBE

COBE the Danish specialists in architecture, urban planning and public space, are at the forefront of a children’s spatial revolution. Their recently opened Frederiksvej Kindergarten, located in the Copenhagen neighbourhood of Frederiksberg, is a unique one of a kind. This quaint cluster of 11 small houses facing different directions create a safe and eventful play-space for the daycare of 182 children in their prime years of infancy. Founded in 2005 and shared between Copenhagen and Berlin, the company creating the physical conditions for people’s lives and their social interaction.

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The Danish company won 1st prize in an architecture award in 2011 giving them permission and funds to kick start the ambitious project. Four years later and Frederiksvej Kindergarten became a reality. The idea was to transform a small children’s daycare centre in the biggest kindergarten in the Danish capital.

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However, the most ambitious aspect of the project lies in its intimacy. A large institution, the size and capacity multiplied by six, has not resulted in an anonymous or impersonal atmosphere. Far from it, Frederiksvej Kindergarten actually prides itself on its community feel, providing the semblance of a little village.

More so, each house is designed as if by the hand of a small child. They create the illusion of being 2-dimensional, like in so many children’s drawings. The roofs are peaked like a mountain and the windows are designed so as to look frameless. Surrounding by two winter gardens, this little enclave of serenity looks set to be the wonderland that children will not want to grow out of.

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It was our pleasure to be able to talk to COBE’s leading architects for this project:

The Plus: Tell us a little about COBE.
COBE:
COBE is an architecture studio established in Copenhagen in 2005. We do projects that range from urban planning to public space to buildings. Some of our most significant projects include the masterplan for Nordhavnen in Copenhagen – the largest urban development project in Scandinavia in the years to come, Nørreport Station – the busiest station in Copenhagen, and a new conference center for Adidas in the sport brand’s HQ in Germany.

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TP: Why is intimacy an important aspect of this design, and how did COBE implement it?
COBE:
The kindergarten is first of all a building for kids, so we were inspired by kids and their thinking and scale, and decided to divide the building into 11 intimate houses with many more small houses inside – so that the kids would relate to the building and the spaces. It should be a small village for kids, designed as simple and naive as a child maybe would draw it.

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TP: What plans did you make for this model that you later discarded? In other words, what worked and what didn’t work?
COBE:
We quickly figured out that it was important to downscale the big 1,700 m2 volume of the kindergarten into a structure of smaller units – both in order to mediate and adapt in size and height to the different scale jumps in the context, and in order to adapt to the kindergarten’s growth – growing from a kindergarten of 30 children to a little city of 11 houses for 200 kids.

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TP: What’s next for COBE?
COBE:
We just won the competition to design a masterplan for the Paper Island in the inner harbour of Copenhagen. With a prime location right across from the Opera House and the Royal Danish Playhouse, the Paper Island – also known as Christiansholm – is the crown jewel of the inner harbour. We also have our own studio on the island so we can’t wait to get started on the further development of the masterplan.

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Location: Frederiksberg, Denmark
Client: City of Frederiksberg
Program: Kindergarden for 182 children, age 0-6
Size: 1,700 m2
Status: 1st prize in competition 2011, completion 2015
Collaborators: Preben Skaarup Landskab, Søren Jensen Rådgivende Ingeniører, Learning Spaces
Team: Dan Stubbergaard, Rune Boserup, Eik Bjerregaard, Kato Hiroshi, Greta Tiedje, Jens Wagner, Claes Nilsson, Christian sander, Davide Pontoni, Agnieszka Krasuska, Agnieszka Szczepanska

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