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27.02.2013 - Ausgabe: 1/2013

Rainbow strip in Helene Deutsch Park

By Dipl.-Ing. Karl Grimm, Vienna


The little park lies in a densely built-up urban area, in the middle of a block of buildings. The surrounding group of buildings consists of historical social care institutions, in which kindergarten and youth groups of public and private organisations are housed, together with offices. The current park was created when the outdoor areas of these institutions were opened for all. In fact, it has been little used by the local populace in recent years, because the entrances were poorly signed and uninviting.

The park is named after Helene Deutsch, an Austrian-American psychoanalyst of the first generation, and pupil and colleague of Sigmund Freud, who specialised in the psychoanalysis of women.

The challenges presented by its redesign lay in the integration of more intensive use of the park for play by all. Many kindergarten and nursery groups of the directly neighbouring institutions use the facility during the day. The needs of people with disabilities have to be given special consideration. In the late afternoon, evening and at weekends, the area is then used by children, young people and adults from the district. Prior to planning, a citizen participation process took place, with questionnaires, interviews, park discussions and workshops. Not only were requests for design collected, but the park was also publicised. It was intended that existing uses should continue to be possible, while the equipment playground would be better equipped and the ball game area would be multifunctional. The park entrances were planned to be easily recognisable and barrier-free, the seating in the park was to be improved and water for drinking and playing was to be made available.

The key element of the new design is the “rainbow strip”. This is a piece of narrow module furniture with waves and flat sections, which runs through the whole park. The strip leads from the new entry area into the park and connects the different areas: the entry area, play area, ball game area and water-sand-play landscape. The rainbow strip is both seating furniture for all and youth furniture. The furniture can be played on by running along it over the waves and crawling below it. An element with a strong visual appearance, corresponding to its use during the day, can be considered their own by both children and young people.

The rainbow colours are achieved through colourful acrylic slats on an open, delicate base of special concrete. The furniture is repeatedly interrupted by paths and passageways. The gaps are connected to each other by large colour points on the strip surface, which can be used to jump between the elements.

The rainbow strip creates an identity for the Helene Deutsch Park. The rainbow is a symbol of diversity. It stands for the Indian legend of the rainbow warrior for people of many colours and qualities, and recalls a rainbow flag for tolerance, freedom and peace.

Following the rainbow strip, many details of the park have been upgraded.
The main entrance has been redesigned. An entry area open to the street draws attention to the park and invites passers-by to visit it. A hackberry tree was planted at the entrance and, with its crown growing into the street area, signals the park. The regular gaps in the fence allow those outside the park to see into it and, through social control, create greater security.
The play equipment area remained at the existing location close to the entrance. The equipment was enriched with a climbing frame, wave slide, 4th swing and basket swing as well as a rotatable climbing tower. Instead of a fence, the rainbow strip now forms the border between the path and play area.

What had been an asphalt space at the centre of the facility has been divided up and designed for different uses. A mini football pitch for kids with two goals and, separated by a fence, a multifunctional court for volleyball, basketball and streetball have been surfaced with an elastic rubber granulate. Surrounding the ball game area are movement zones with different jumping games painted onto their finished surfaces. A different view of the activities can be gained in distorting mirrors. The rainbow strip closes the space devoted to the movement area.

In a quieter zone, a hammock meadow and a tent meadow are set out alongside the buildings. On the tent meadow there are tetrahedrons made of round black locust timber, which can be connected with movable horizontal wooden poles. The poles are stored in the children’s nursery. Cloths and tarpaulins can be used to delight the children by creating small and large temporary tents from the individual tetrahedrons and connected wooden construction.

A sand-water play area was embedded in an elevation. A water channel constructed from small cobblestones is equipped with sliders and large pebbles, and flows into the sand play area. Concrete elements of the rainbow strop without slats can be used as tables for play.

A new route in the park is created by three loops, which invite children to walk and ride their tricycles, scooters and children's bicycles. A play area for small children from the nursery is separated from the rest of the park.

A well-developed and established tree population lends the facility the character of a park, despite the density of the equipment and the robust design with finished surfaces. Grass ovals under the old trees enhance this image.

Project data:
Principal: Stadt Wien – Wiener Stadtgärten
Planning: Karl Grimm Landschaftsarchitekten, Vienna
Colleague: Erika Klosterhuber
Completion: 2011
Surface area: 3.500 m²
Costs (gross): € 490,000


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