Lonely Planet Writer

This Danish company is creating incredible playgrounds around the world

A Danish company is causing a stir with their monstrously beautiful playground installations popping up all around the world.

The Lion Chunga in Odense, Denmark.
The Lion Chunga in Odense, Denmark.
The playground is inspired by the Gobi desert and also features a tourist bus.
The playground is inspired by the Gobi desert and also features a tourist bus. Image by Monstrum

The Copenhagen-based company Monstrum create thematic playgrounds that focus on unique artistic and architectural quality that have proven to be a hit with children and adults. The products are handmade in Nordic wood from sustainable forests by a team a 26 artists, architects, designers and builders that work closely together.

The Dragon at Mulighedernes Park in Aalborg complete with climbing rings, balance beams and ropes.
The Dragon at Mulighedernes Park in Aalborg complete with climbing rings, balance beams and ropes. Image by Monstrum

Founded in 2003 by set designers Ole Barslund Nielsen and Christian Jensen, Monstrum’s mission is to create dynamic and interesting play areas that challenge the motor skills and imaginations of children by showing them something unique in an urban space.

A grand palace in Liseberg, Gothenburg complete with bird cage.
A grand palace in Liseberg, Gothenburg complete with bird cage. Image by Monstrum
Interior view of the Liseberg palace.
Interior view of the Liseberg palace. Image by Monstrum
The playground was inspired by the Victorian architecture of the surrounding Tivoli gardens.
The playground was inspired by the Victorian architecture of the surrounding Tivoli gardens.

The idea to start the business first came to Ole after he helped his son’s kindergarten pick materials for a new playground. “I realised that for the given budget I could make something that resembled theatre scenography that would give better play opportunities than traditional concepts for playgrounds. Christian helped with the work and it turned out to be a really nice playground. This became the foundation for Monstrum,” said Ole Barslund Nielsen.

The Globe playground at Arhus main library. Each play area features a different story.
The Globe playground at Arhus main library. Each play area features a different story. Image by Monstrum

So far, Monstrum playgrounds are in countries such as Norway, Sweden, Russia and Egypt.

The giant octopus from the Monstrum playground in Gorky Park, Moscow.
The giant octopus from the Monstrum playground in Gorky Park, Moscow. Image by Monstrum
The playground includes a lighthouse as well as a ship with engine room, ballroom, and a captain’s cabin.
The playground includes a lighthouse as well as a ship with engine room, ballroom, and a captain’s cabin. Image by Monstrum

As well as being given a unanimous seal of approval from young playground users, Monstrum has received a string of accolades in art and design, including an award for Best Playground in Stockholm, a Danish Design Award and a nomination for the German Design Award.

The Brumleby playground consists of three houses, a baker’s shop, and an ice-cream booth. The surface around the houses is cast rubber. A the-ground-is-lava snake has been set up next to the small village.
The Brumleby playground consists of three houses, a baker’s shop, and an ice-cream booth. The surface around the houses is cast rubber. A the-ground-is-lava snake has been set up next to the small village.

The company works with museums, housing associations, municipalities and landscape architects, tailoring a playground to a specific time frame, budget and list of ideas. A special effort is also made to create play spaces that are evocative but safe.

The sperm whale at Hirtshals, Denmark is fitted with ladders and stairs as well as climbing nooks on the outside of the body.
The sperm whale at Hirtshals, Denmark is fitted with ladders and stairs as well as climbing nooks on the outside of the body. Image by Monstum

Monstrum also donates 10% of the company’s profits for social work, committing to helping children in disadvantaged areas.