Nature is the best playground in the world

WOW PARK in Billund challenges our excessive fascination with technology.

Sound-absorbing cement-bonded wood wool panels from Troldtekt are often used as acoustic ceilings in kindergartens
Photo: Thomas Mølvig, arkitekt

A five-year-old girl prances happily around on a narrow suspension bridge, 14 metres above the ground. She climbed up to it via rope ladders in a tall tree. This would normally be cause for great alarm, but here in WOW PARK, her mother just sits on a bench and waves calmly up at her daughter. This is a good example of the physical approach to play that the new amusement park in Billund has superbly mastered.

The WOW PARK model was developed by two brothers – Jacob and Aage Hindhede. The first park opened in Skjern in 2013, and now an even bigger version has been built in east Billund. The many exciting activities cover an area the size of around 40 football fields.

The model is essentially based on the idea that nature is the world’s best playground for children and adults. The focus is on climbing trees, exploring and constantly using the senses. The vision has been heavily influenced by the two brothers’ own rural childhood, where climbing trees, building cubby houses and being physically active in nature was part of daily life. In WOW PARK, the only difference is that it can be done under completely safe conditions, and everyone can attempt challenges at their own level.

Food court and rotating tree

All six buildings in the park were built by LPH Byg A/S in a style to match the activities. The main material is rough wood, and the roofs are made of matt steel sheets. Door and window frames have been painted green, making the buildings a key part of the visual identity.

The food court is the biggest and most impressive building. Large groups, school classes, company outings and families can enjoy a meal here in a rustic setting. The wooden rafters and the entire main structure are made of partially debranched and debarked logs. The effect is astonishing, given how rare it is to see a new building with visible structures that look like something from the Viking age.

The interior of the food court combines wood in various shapes and with varying degrees of refinement. The large room has been acoustically dampened using grey Troldtekt acoustic ceilings, which go extremely well with the overall look. Troldtekt ceilings have also been used in the ice cream café and the underground toilets, as well as in the administration building (natural wood panels were used here).

There is a large tree in the food court called the ‘rotating tree’. As the name suggests, visitors can make the entire huge trunk rotate on its axis using only muscle power. This is another wonderful example of the ability of WOW PARK to surprise visitors, without having to press a button or stare at a screen.