Emdrup Junk Playground

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Emdrup Junk Playground
Skrammellegepladsen, Emdrup
TypeAdventure playground
LocationKeldsøvej 5, 2100 København Ø, Denmark
Nearest cityCopenhagen, Denmark

The Emdrup Junk Playground (Danish: Skrammellegepladsen Emdrup) is an Adventure playground located in Emdrup, a neighborhood in Copenhagen, Denmark.


The Emdrup Junk Playground was the first planned junk playground and is frequently cited as the "birthplace" of playwork.[1][2][3] It was opened in 1943 by a Workers' Cooperative Housing Association in Emdrupvej (or Emdrup), near Copenhagen, Denmark, during the German occupation of the 1940s. It grew out of a broader Danish resistance to Nazi occupation[4] and parents' fears that "their children's play might be mistaken for acts of sabotage by soldiers."[5]

The Emdrup Junk Playground emerged from a collaboration between Carl Theodor Sørensen, a Danish landscape architect commissioned by the architect Dan Fink to design a playground for the Emdrupvænge housing estate,[6] and John (Jonas) Bertelsen (1917-1978), the playground's first "pædagoger". Sørensen had earlier worked in partnership with Hans Dragehjelm (1875-1948), the "father of the sand-box" and a co-founder of the Froebel Society in Denmark, on a plan to transform Cottageparken near Klampenborg, Denmark, into a children's park. Their proposal was ultimately rejected, but has provided scholars of play with insight into the historical context from which the Emdrup playground emerged. See de Coninck-Smith, Ning. Natural play in natural surroundings. Urban childhood and playground planning in Denmark, c. 1930 – 1950 (PDF) (Report) (Working Paper 6. Child and Youth Culture ed.). The Department of Contemporary Cultural Studies, Odense University. Retrieved July 8, 2017. and "Hans Dragehjelm". www.adventureplay.org.uk. Adventure Play UK. Retrieved July 7, 2017.</ref> Sørensen’s initial design did not require an adult "pædagoger", but Bertelsen was hired as part of the housing policy of the Emdrup Workers' Cooperative Housing Association.[7] Bertelsen stressed that play should be self-directed and pædagoger should allow children to pursue their own projects without adult interference.[7] Together they aimed to build a site that would afford children living in cities the same opportunities for free play with waste materials and tools that were enjoyed by children living in rural areas.[8]

The original site was minimally landscaped by Sørensen to evoke the elements of the Danish rural landscape: "the beach, the meadow, and the grove."[6] The original site ran 65 meters from west to east and 82 meters in north to south, and consisted of a sandbox on a patch of grass enclosed by a fenced dyke planted with rosebushes, thornapple, and Acacia bushes, partly to screen the playground from view.[6][10][note 1] John Bertelsen coined the phrase skrammolog (or "junkology") to describe the children's play.[9]

Marjory Allen, an English landscape architect and child welfare advocate, visited the Emdrup Junk Playground in 1946 for a few hours and wrote a widely-read article about the Emdrup Adventure playground titled Why Not Use Our Bomb Sites Like This?, which was published in Picture Post that year.[11][12]


O'Connor and Palmer (2003) have described changes to the playground since 1943.[10] While children's play remains free and self-directed, the construction area has dwindled since the 1960s and the diversity of scrap and construction materials has been reduced. Pre-built structures and a range of additional activities have been added. These include gardening, basketball, soccer, and a clubhouse on the site, theatre productions, and vegetable and flower gardening.[10] Pre-programmed events have also been introduced, including the Skrammel Olympics and Cake and Bread Baking days.[10] Periodic efforts to segregate children by age and to transform the skrammellegepladsen into a conventional playground have met with opposition from play advocates.[13][14]

The Emdrup playground is staffed by Danish "pædagoger" and assistants "pædagog-medhjælpere". Paedagogs also facilitate meetings with the Parental Board of the recreational facility that houses the Emdrup Skrammellegepladsen.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sørensen's designs for the playground are held by the Danish National Art Library and can be viewed here, on the library's website Emdrupvej / Keldsøvej, skrammellegeplads.


  1. ^ Sutton, Lia (2011). "History of Adventure Playgrounds". adventureplaygrounds.hampshire.edu/.
  2. ^ Frost, Joe L. (2010). A History of Children's Play and Play Environments: Toward a Contemporary Child-Saving Movement. Routledge. p. 185. ISBN 1135251673.
  3. ^ Kino, Carol (July 3, 2013). "The Work Behind Child's Play Carnegie Museum's 'Playground Project' Traces an Evolution". New York Times. New York, NY. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
  4. ^ Henriksen, Ole Schultze (2006). Dansk Pædagogisk Historisk Forening og Samling og Videncenter for Pædagogiske og Sociale Studier (PDF). – CVU København & Nordsjælland. ISBN 8791866014.
  5. ^ Eisa, Nefertari Ulen (July 25, 2016). "When Play Is Criminalized: Racial Disparities in Childhood". truth-out.org. Truth Out. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c Kozlovsky, Roy (2016). The Architectures of Childhood: Children, Modern Architecture and Reconstruction in Postwar England. Routledge. ISBN 1317044649.
  7. ^ a b Kozlovsky, Roy (2007). "Chapter 8: Adventure Playgrounds and Postwar Reconstruction". In Gutman, Martha; de Coninck-Smith, Ning (eds.). Designing Modern Childhoods: History, Space, and the Material Culture of Children: An International Reader. Rutgers University Press.
  8. ^ Sutton, Lia (2011). "History of Adventure Playgrounds". adventureplaygrounds.hampshire.edu/.
  9. ^ a b "John Bertelsen". www.adventureplay.org.uk. Adventure Play UK. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
  10. ^ a b c d e f O'Connor, Amanda Rae; Palmer, James F. (2003). "Skrammellegepladsen: Denmark's first adventure play area". In Schuster, Rudy (ed.). Proceedings of the 2002 Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station. pp. 79–85.
  11. ^ Highmore, Ben (2013). "Playgrounds and Bombsites: Postwar Britain's Ruined Landscapes". Cultural Politics. 9 (3). doi:10.1215/17432197-2347009.
  12. ^ Wilson, Reilly Bergin (2014). Who Owns the Playground: Space and Power at Lollard Adventure Playground (1954-1961) (M.A.). University of Leeds.
  13. ^ "Save Emdrup Adventure Playground". rethinkingchildhood.com. 2016. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  14. ^ Henriksen, Ole Schultze (2015). "Skal Emdrup Skrammelegeplads lukkes?". www.lfs.dk. Landsforeningen for Socialpædagoger. Retrieved July 23, 2017.

Further reading[edit]

  • Carl Theodor Sørensen, 1931 (reprint), "Parkpolitik i Sogn og Købstad", Copenhagen 1978, ISBN 87-7241-405-7 (in Danish)
  • Bengtsson, Arvid Bengtsson (1973). Adventure Playgrounds. Crosby Lockwood Staples. ISBN 0258968354. (Containing excerpts from a diary kept by John Bertelsen during his early days at Emdrup Junk Playground)
  • O'Connor, Amanda Rae; Palmer, James F., 2003, Skrammellegepladsen: Denmark's first adventure play area, In, Schuster, Rudy, ed. Proceedings of the 2002 Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium. Pp. 79-85, Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station.