What Parks Could Learn from Pleasure Gardens Like Copenhagen's Tivoli

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen is one of the world's most incredible examples of a multi-layered hub of social life. It has so much joy to offer in so many different ways that it is an example to follow for anyone seeking to take their public places to the next level. Opened in 1843, Tivoli is the third oldest amusement park in the world and one of the main influences for Disneyland.

Pleasure Gardens

A pleasure garden used to be a type of public park full of options for recreation and entertainment like concert venues, amusement park rides, cafés, and more – everything that could attract interest and visitation. Because of this, pleasure gardens were beloved destinations, something we could use more of nowadays.

Tivoli's Gardens - Entrance

Tivoli's entrance is a wonder of its own, but the magic truly begins on the inside. While Tivoli charges a fee to enter, the pleasure gardens of the past were public places. There is no reason why we can't bring that back. Bryant Park in New York City is an example of what that could look like on a smaller scale.


The, in your face, discovery is immediately evident as one enters into one of the most densely created development ever. There is absolutely no architectural plan or design motif. It is pure chaos at its best. Improvisation is what gives it the charm and excitement everyone is looking for. Uses are piled on top or other uses. At the bottom of a ride might be a kiosk for food. While standing there a roller coaster will bring a screaming group of riders virtually right over you head. The children's area is two levels and packed into a small corner of the "Garden". It is pure bliss for all.

Convienently Stuck between the City Hall and the Train Station in Copenhagen

As you walk around Tivoli with all its color, energy and attractions, you feel like Alice exploring Wonderland. There are amusement rides, illuminated tunnels and sparkling facades, coffee shops, boat rides, and more! The experience is intense and multi-layered. There are few calm places. People are present and engaged with everything that's going on. Big families are everywhere as well as couples and friends, everyone smiling and in awe. It's all about joy and discovery.

Water Features

The water features in Tivoli are fantastic in their own right. Pagodas, fountains, watermills, flower-lined bridges, and gazebos decorate the rippling pools and draw visitors to their banks.


At the heart of any great place is programming and Tivoli is no different. It offers several magnificent performance areas for concerts, plays, and shows.

These performance areas are surrounded by seating, flowers, and fountains, adding splendor to the experience for those who gather to watch the shows. Their look and feel are regularly changing.

The Rides

Some would argue that at the heart of Tivoli are its rides, ranging from a carousel for its youngest visitors to the fear (and fun) filled "Daemonen" roller coaster.


Winding between the attractions, shops and eateries are whimsical alleyways covered in lights and playful signs and details that grab the eye. There are so many things to notice that walking along them is like diving into an "I spy" book!

Joke shops and funny surprises make these alleys even more of a blast to walk through.

Restaurants and Cafés

After a day full of fun, performances, and adventure, everyone needs a rest and some refreshment. The restaurants and cafés in Tivoli offer the perfect venue. Their beautiful decor enhances the charming atmosphere of the space.


Throughout the grounds are seats of all kinds – from lounge chairs to benches – where visitors can rest and reflect on their great day. The movable chairs are particularly popular because they allow people the freedom to arrange them however feels best. Movable seating is almost always a hit in public places like Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. In our work, whenever we've added movable chairs to a place like Bryant Park or Harvard yard, it comes alive.

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While the whole park is kid-friendly, there is a special place just for kids where everything is a perfect fit for them, from the stout tower to the mini whale.


Stunning kiosks and food trucks are sprinkled throughout the gardens. They both decorate the space with their beautiful design and provide much needed refreshment for visitors.

Incredible hidden surprises peek around corners such as this ship buried in the greenery. They make the experience of exploring Tivoli exciting and unpredictable.

A Place to Learn From

Tivoli is a wonderful example of a multi-layered hub – a place with a density of fun experiences, offerings, and amenities that together create a magnificent destination which everyone can enjoy. This is what we should aim to achieve with our parks and squares and gardens if we want them to be focal points of our cities and gathering places for the community.

Tivoli teaches us that the best places don't have clear distinctions between their offerings and features – everything overlaps and mixes in a beautiful chaos. It's not about designing and perfecting individual, separate pieces, but about layering uses and improvising to enhancing people's experience of the complete multi-layered place. Great destinations should be interesting, beautiful, comfortable, enjoyable and fun. They should be places we can love. Tivoli shows us what that looks like and inspires us to make more.

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The mission of the Social Life Project is to incite a renaissance of community connection in public spaces around the globe. Through our online publication, presentations, campaigns, and catalytic projects, we can create transformative impact on communities everywhere. Our work grows out of more than 50 years devoted to building the global placemaking movement. It is an initiative of the Placemaking Fund, along with PlacemakingX — a global network of leaders who together accelerate placemaking as a way to create healthy, inclusive, and beloved communities.

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