There are times when it feels like it costs money just to leave the house. From coffees to movie tickets, we expect to pay money for access to space and entertainment. While local libraries, parks and beaches provide some free activities, they don’t reflect the full spectrum of interests that exist in our increasingly diverse communities. KU.BE House of Culture and Movement is a new typology of community space that demonstrates how we could and should be thinking about public amenity.
Designed by the masters of multipurpose, MVRDV, alongside Copenhagen locals ADEPT, the brief was to design “a building that would bring people together and improve the quality of life”. This open brief was met with an equally broad conceptual response that combines exercise, performance, education and mindfulness. The building’s different sized and coloured spaces accommodate activities including, but not limited to, yoga, rock climbing, dance and parkour, while KU.BE’s library and café function as more traditional anchors. Through this mix of uses KU.BE attracts people of all ages and abilities.
“KU.BE is a space that reminds us how important physical activity is for social interactions.”
An antidote to screen culture and a challenge to our increasingly sedentary lifestyles, MVRDV project architect Julius Kirchert tells us that “KU.BE is a space that reminds us how important physical activity is for social interactions”. Acknowledging that not all lessons can be learned in the library, its network of mazes, slides, poles and ladders “encourage more impulsive and organic interactions which are especially important for children as they continually develop social skills”, says Kirchert.
As technology’s grip tightens and neighbourhoods become more complex, community spaces like KU.BE will play an important role in energising residents and helping them build relationships with one another. To prevent social isolation we are going to need more spaces that elicit a sense of ownership from the community. Spaces that don’t limit how we interact, and that can change as we do. In this sense, KU.BE is a fluid response to a world in flux. As Kirchert explains, “it is a flexible space, ever changing, and this is certainly the kind of ethos we continue to work with here at MVRDV”.
Municipality of Frederiksberg, Danish Foundation for Culture and Sports Facilities and Realdania Foundation
Chris Barton is Cultural Director at Right Angle Studio and partner in Golden Age Cinema & Bar. Based in Melbourne, he oversees the company’s local and global research activities and ensures its strategic and creative work has both style and substance. In past lives, Chris co-founded The Thousands city guides and published Condiment, an independent magazine exploring the intersection between food and creativity, and food and community.