The Children’s Culture House Ama’r by Dorte Mandrup is a public facility for families as part of a neighborhood revitalization in a formerly run-down district in Copenhagen that has emerged as a center for Danish hip hop culture. Designed in a collaboration between the architect and artist Kerstin Bergendal, the conception came out of a series of design workshops with both adults as well as children. The new building is organized as a mountain village, closing off and healing a break in the traditional Copenhagen city block, right at an active street corner.

Mandrup Childrens Culture House 03 Our JUST ONE THING this week is scale and play. The wonderful attraction of this project is the inspiration and thoughtfulness of the design, with a sensitivity to the life of a child and how they can be positively engaged with the environment around them. The central stairs, climbing up the ‘mountain’ and connecting the floor levels, become a play element with the addition of climbing holds and a soft landing at the bottom.

Mandrup Childrens Culture House 13

Image credit: Bo Bolther

Children-scaled windows not only engage the kids on the inside, but also nicely convey to the community that the Culture House is a welcoming place for kids.     Mandrup Childrens Culture House 09 Several spaces in the Culture House were created in response to the children asking for spaces to be alone or with a friend.Mandrup Childrens Culture House 07

Dorte Mandrup

ArchDaily article

Divisare article


  1. Here are the nine principles that came out of the interaction with the kids and parents:
    1. The beach: an adaptable, flexible space with different activities parallel to each other
    2. Bubbles: a short-lived bubble – a space to conduct unpredictable, spontaneous events
    3. The attentive eye: floors, walls and furnishings that encourage playful activities
    4. Changing skin: Surface 1: multifunctional and flexible spaces
    5. Changing skin: Surface 2: imprecisely defined furnishings for creative processes
    6. Changing skin: Surface 3: architectural surprises
    7. The fantastic space 1: spaces combined in complex forms
    8. The fantastic space 2: unpredictable, inspiring spaces, open to a number of directions
    9. Being alone with someone: play spaces for small groups; semi-closed

  2. I love this idea of urban living that provides ad hoc-type of facilities for families. If you lived in this neighborhood, you could just go there in the evening or weekends with your kids & do creative things. I hope Seattle is ready for this.

  3. A space can still feel “secret” with a low roof overhead while the bottom can be completely open. A tree’s low broad canopy would work even better. Keep the lower plane clear – just up to 3′ and teachers can still see what’s happening, while kids feel they have their own space. We have found that established Cedar trees work best – the broad stretch of branches create a whole space above and around – while still seeing underneath – but a bean fort will be too small to create that feeling. a bean maze! – keep clear the bottom foot, visibility through can still be achieved; or how about a sunflower maze.

    • Fantastic- thanks, Kas. It never occurred to me to simply trim up the bottom. A sunflower maze would be incredible – especially since all the kids have their own sunflower starts!

  4. Wow – love those stairs! Also, the desire to have small, “secret” places is one I heard a lot from kiddos during our playground design charette. We are experimenting with bean teepees and sheet forts, but maintaining clear sight lines for teachers is challenging. Any ideas?

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