Unveiled in 2016, Ku.Be House of Culture in Movement has been giving the people of Frederiksberg, Denmark a public building with a difference. A space that fuses theatre, sport and education in a way that not only encourages a holistic approach to wellbeing, but brings together people regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or outlook, we spoke with lead architect Jacob van Rijs of MVRDV to find out more about the project.
What was the inspiration behind Ku.Be?
The body and the mind, and how these are interconnected, was a key source of inspiration for Ku.Be. It’s a space that promotes health and wellbeing, connecting groups that might not necessarily socialise with each other. Climbing walls, enclosed and in-between spaces all provide a maze-like experience for movement.
What issue were you trying to solve with the project?
Our aim was to create a more attractive and engaging sports and cultural space, as these two typologies usually exist separately. The building should be more than just a facilitator, it should bring people together. We thought about how we could achieve a design that brings these two areas of contemporary life together, with a building that focuses on encouraging different forms of movement. We created larger volumes for performances and meetings, and smaller, more intimate and contemplative spaces for things like yoga and meditation. What is exciting in this building, however, are the in-between spaces: walls that you can climb on, fireman poles, slides, nets and ropes that provide connections across different levels. Ku.Be in this sense continually adapts to its user's demands.
How important was the idea of being able to move dynamically and actively within the building?
The dynamics of the building are central to how we approached our designs for it. We wanted to create a space that was full of energy, and also one that embodied new and exciting ideas for how a sports-cultural centre can operate and look. When you approach the building, its partly glass façade gives a view of the bright interiors – a labyrinth of cubes which allows visitors to move across different levels however they want: through climbing, crawling, jumping, sliding or walking.
Do you think local authorities around the world are doing enough to help inhabitants be more active within their work and public spaces?
Workspaces are changing and as our population continues to grow, especially in urban centres, these areas have to evolve radically to meet the demands of this growing population. Workspaces need to be more adaptable and all of the needs of employees – quiet spaces, sports and leisure etc. – need to be met so that they are comfortable, inspiring and engaging spaces for users.
Are buildings that enable movement important for architects to consider when designing for the future?
Sports and movement in different ways always play a big role in the designs of MVRDV. Especially when more and more work happens in front of a computer. Buildings should offer alternatives to keep people challenged, helping them to interact with each other better.
For more on Ku.Be House, visit MVRDV.
Images: Adam Mørk.