Lonely Planet Writer

You can climb inside this giant friendly octopus in China

A giant red octopus has descended on a children’s playground in Shenzhen, China, but fear not, it’s fun and adorable. Dubbed Kraken, Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman created the whimsical red play structure to the delight of both children and adults.

The giant red octopus in the children's playground in Shenzen.
The giant red octopus in the children’s playground in Shenzen. Image by Charlie Xia

Built with the help of UAP studio, the oversized sea creature is made from woven red rope wrapped around a metal frame. Visitors can climb into the structure through four of Kraken’s eight tentacles, and once inside, find a net-covered playspace hidden inside the creature’s big round head. The quirky character sits in a public park at a seaside development in Yantian, Shenzhen that was home to a former Soviet aircraft carrier-turned theme park. Named for the legendary, fictional sea monster and sporting a jaunty sailor’s cap, Kraken is also a nod to the battleships that once occupied the park’s nearby harbor.

The oversized sea creature is made from woven red rope wrapped around a metal frame.
The oversized sea creature is made from woven red rope wrapped around a metal frame. Image by Charlie Xia

Kraken is the latest work from Hofman, who is known for his playful (and often enormous) urban installations, perhaps most notably his Rubber Ducks. Since 2007, the massive, inflated version of a children’s bath toy has floated in waters around the world, from the U.S., to Australia, Japan, and China. Other works include Sunbathing Hare, a 15-metre bunny sculpture installed in 2013 in St. Petersburg, Russia, Floating Fish, emerging from a body of water in Wuzhen, China and made from 12,000 foam kickboards, and HippopoThames, the 21-metre hippopotamus that floated down London’s Thames River in 2014.  

The quirky character sits in a public park at a seaside development in Yantian.
The quirky character sits in a public park at a seaside development in Yantian. Image by Charlie Xia

Shenzhen is one of the largest cities in China, located north of Hong Kong in the country’s mainland and known for its vibrant nightlife, theme parks, speciality markets, and now, for its giant red octopus.