Water & sand are among the most important resources on this earth. Without a doubt. But both are also the most popular game materials. Combined with our stainless steel water play system they become magic on every playground. When planning the Blue Planet, the Copenhagen 3XN team of architects decided to enrich their fantastic building with an entire water play landscape. The result is a fascinating play system that fits perfectly into the award-winning architecture of the Blue Planet.
Marvel at rays and sharks in the underwater tunnel, let off steam on the water playground with water pumps and locks or go on a discovery tour in the rainforest: In the blue planet there is not a second of boredom.
The Blue Planet is Denmark’s largest and most modern aquarium and boasts spectacular architecture. Situated on the banks of the Öresund, the award-winning building looks like a gigantic water vortex that draws visitors into a new world and shows them life under the surface of the water.
Diamond-shaped aluminum plates that nestle against the undulating exterior facade characterize the aquarium’s appearance. Like the water surface, the aluminum reflects the colors and light of the sky. It changes its hue and transforms into a mirror image of nature.
The Blue Planet is one of the largest walk-in aquariums in Northern Europe. Visitors marvel at thousands of aquatic animal species on an interior surface totaling 10,000 square meters.
It is also already an internationally awarded building. The architects of 3XN have received several awards for the design concept, including the RIBA EU architect award and the award for the best building at the renowned World Architecture Festival. However, it is not only distinguished by its form, but also by its 2,000 square meters of outdoor space.
Every year, over 700,000 visitors visit the aquarium, including numerous families with children. It is precisely because of these young guests that the Copenhagen team of architects 3XN decided to add a large water feature to the building. The result is a fascinating play landscape, which the play equipment manufacturer Kaiser & Kühne has created together with its Danish partner CADO.
From an architectural point of view, the water feature landscape in front of the entrance to the Blue Planet blends seamlessly into its surroundings. Clear forms and clarity fit in with the urban environment on the waterfront. The playground equipment made of shimmering stainless steel not only picks up the look of the aquarium’s silver facade, but also fits into the urban context of the surroundings. Right from the start, it was important to the design and architectural team at Kaiser & Kühne that the water playground blends seamlessly and naturally into its surroundings. The harbor overlooking the Öresund, the modern architecture and the spectacular structure of the Blue Planet – all this forms a coherent, urban overall picture that the water playground was to reflect.
“When we plan a facility like this, the first thing we care about is the location. The building is incredibly fascinating for us here because the structure picks up on the play theme of water and the facade material aluminum gives our stainless steel a place on the side,” explains Wolfram Ziegenhorn from Kaiser & Kühne, whose team is responsible for the design of the play equipment.
At the same time, the playground, the Blue Planet and nature interact with each other through their play of colors. The aluminum facade of the aquarium playfully reflects the daylight with its entire surface – even in the evening or at night. Depending on daylight and sunlight, the playground and the Blue Planet reflect in a very special way.
The play equipment is delicately and finely lined up in this play of colors. They reflect the light influences of the Blue Planet and the sky and complement this view with their own nuances. As in a large orchestra, the individual play equipment reproduces the sounds of an entire ensemble.
The planning team also made use of the local geography to make the theme of water tangible with all the senses: The hillside location facing the Öresund is ideally suited for a variety of water channels, so that all the play elements are arranged in a fan shape around the Blue Planet. The playground picks up the central architectural theme of Blue Planet architecture: The water vortex. If you look closely, you will recognize the splashes of water in the whirlpool. Like a large fan, the individual strands open out into the surroundings and invite play and discovery.
Seven platforms, three water pumps and a total of 34 stainless steel posts form the basic structure of the water playground, where the little explorers can experience the element of water with all their senses. The special: Here, too, the playground forms a link with the Blue Planet. The water for the playground comes directly from inside the aquarium. With the help of the three large water pumps made of stainless steel, the water can be sucked from the building directly into the playground. The children can then decide for themselves which direction they want to give the water:
For example, the play water can be stored in several basins, rotated by mill wheels, distributed over the water funnel or sprayed into the air.
The children’s urge to explore is also stimulated. Can water actually flow upwards?
The answer is yes! One of the most popular toys is the water spiral, which children can easily operate themselves. It even allows the water to climb up.
In this way, children experience the element of water with all their senses: Their spirit of discovery knows no bounds when it comes to trying out how water behaves in the various devices.
The EPDM coating on the floor ensures the unimpeded circulation of water. EPDM is an ideal surface because it allows the water to return to the natural water cycle unhindered, while being soft and elastic enough to allow romping children to play safely. When designing the playground, the CADO team together with Kaiser & Kühne deliberately decided against the otherwise so popular sandbox – if only to prevent the nearby museum entrance from being soiled with mud and sand. The EPDM surface gives the playground a clear and clean surface and is ideal for romping, jumping and running.
The playground also invites to sports and exercise. Those who have had enough of the water games can try out the attached climbing facility and do gymnastics, shimmying, dangling or jumping to their heart’s content. Thus the playground in front of the Blue Planet offers children of all ages – and certainly also their parents – numerous play and discovery possibilities and thus complements the adventure world of the Blue Planet Aquarium.
The playground in front of the Blue Planet is an excellent example of great international cooperation between teams from different industries. The 3XN architects who designed the Blue Planet building were closely involved in the playground design from the very beginning. The playground was designed by the Danish company CADO, while Kaiser & Kühne designed and built the individual units.
Especially in playground design it is important not to lose sight of the context of the surroundings. Attractive planning that adapts to the local conditions is at least as important as great equipment. Randomly setting up a few slides and swings is therefore not enough to create an inviting playground. However, it doesn’t always have to be a lot of spectacular play offers, which are set up according to the motto “bigger, faster, further”.
Playing means discovering, and for this you not only need a good place, but above all an inviting setting that conveys peace and quiet.
This has been achieved here in any case, because the facility adapts timelessly to its surroundings and will hopefully bring joy to several generations of children.