Universet

08.12.2011 § Leave a comment

“The Universe” afterschool center was a controversial project to build because the site was home to an existing playground, which was highly valued in a densely populated area with little recreational space. The new building was designed by JJW Architects, whose proposal actually increased the amount of public space on the site. By using a similar strategy as the activity center in the Green Trangle, the designers created a type of plinth as the base of the building, which allowed for the overhangs to be used as covered play areas. The play areas are unique in that there are a variety of types of equipment (as I am quickly becoming an expert in playground equipment, it is always worth noting what would be applicable to an active almost two year old). The roof is also occupiable space, which seems to be a common response in CPH, so that the floor area of publicly useable space is increased.

The ground level is primarily glazing and houses multipurpose rooms as well as rooms for clubs and organizations. The glass is meant “to create transparency and life.” The upper level is clad almost completely in corten steel and is the bulk of the afterschool center. The rusted steel gives a certain mass to the floating form, and the color is meant to address the nearby brick buildings as well as blend into the trees. The open roof level is reminiscent of the activity center, except that it is an unprogrammed space. While the expansive views over the surrounding canopy are inviting, it seemed fairly devoid of life while I was there. Every other element of the space saw some kind of use, whether it was families passing through for a brief stop between destinations, groups of kids biking around the paths or young men hanging out on the perimeter system of benches. None of the groups seemed to linger for too long, but it was an impressively diverse population in age and activity.

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