ADEPT and MVRDV explore the physical dimension of culture and movement

An interior playground opens to the landscape through a glass façade. Photo Adam Mørk

FREDERIKSBERG ­– Flintholm station is a busy hub of transportation connections serving the wider Copenhagen area. The location is frequented by people from both near and far, which is why the Frederiksberg Municipality believes the area is a great place for its new Culture and Health Centre. The city ran a competition in 2010 which ADEPT, a local architectural firm, and MVRDV, a Dutch architectural firm, were awarded in a joint venture. The collaboration resulted in a project called ‘Ku.Be,’ a House of Culture and Movement that has recently been completed and opened to the public.

Culture and movement are themes that have a strong presence in the project from the competition phase to built reality. The architects looked to create an environment which users could take ownership of and change programmatically based on their own wants and needs. The architects response merged theatre, sport and learning into a 3200-sqm space that promotes a healthier lifestyle. Six primary volumes make up the main functions of Ku.Be, each with their own shape, programme, colour and material. MVRDV co-founder Jacob van Rijs explains the building makeup: ‘Larger volumes are suited to hold performances or public meetings, smaller ones can be for exhibitions or debates. The fast-pace rooms are perfect for dance or parkour, and zen rooms give you the contrast of yoga or meditation. It’s between these volumes where the real fun will happen though; spaces where we hint at a use but which will become entirely user-defined.’

Movement doesn’t stop with the programming, as the interstitial spaces provide alternative ways of circulating a building: a vertical labyrinth encourages crouching and climbing on boxes from the second to third floor; and a maze made from nets is dubbed the mousetrap, allowing movers to climb within the voids of the building. Slides and fireman poles are the descending circulation of choice for those wanting faster speeds. ‘What would otherwise be a simple, mindless journey through the building turns into an exploration and discovery of movement,’ said Martin Krogh, co-founder of ADEPT. ‘Here it’s you that defines the route, however you want – climbing, sliding, crawling, jumping.’ Even though the architects have successfully turned the circulation into a playground, there are still traditional ways around the building more suitable for the less physically-able or energetic. The forms organising the interior are mimicked in the landscape to organise active zones and cultural zones with slides, an amphitheatre and gardens forming a landscape as public amenity.

The municipality and the architects believe that the new building will attract people locally while also having a wider pull on the adjacent Copenhagen Municipality. Martin Krogh explains the building’s potential: ‘The hope is that the mix of activities will provide the attraction. Ku.Be will offer both fixed programmes, such as a small library, a cafe and regular classes. In addition to this, Ku.Be will also provide spaces for more unexpected events, regular as well as one-timers. The idea is that in visiting Ku.Be, curiosity will encourage visitors to explore and experience what is on today’s menu.’ The mixed usage and the exciting circulation is probably also why people will utilise this building. Architecture too often isn’t fun or, if so, only in its aesthetic. This is architecture that has fun as a functional foundation.

Photos courtesy of ADEPT/MVRDV/Adam Mørk

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