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16.10.2013 - Ausgabe: 5/2013

Magdeburg – movement on the Elbe


In the presence of some 150 children, Lord Mayor Dr. Lutz Trümper officially opened the new playground located near the look-out tower in Magdeburg’s Rotehorn municipal park. This is not just the city’s 129th playground - it also represents something quite special: children and young people were encouraged to contribute their ideas and concepts to the design of the project that used as its theme Magdeburg – city on the Elbe. The Playground was realised by playground manufacturer spielart GmbH. The result is an inventive river-related fantasy setting dedicated to the world of fable and more specifically the local legend of the ‘Red Horn’, the Rotehorn. And because the new playground has been constructed so that it resembles a kind of dramatic backdrop for this unique myth, children from the local ‘Am Glacis’ primary school performed their version of the tale during the opening ceremony. This mysterious and somewhat tragic story tells of the love of the knight Willfried for Elwine, the nymph of the Elbe, who disappears when Willfried spies on her, leaving nothing but her red horn behind her. A large children’s party was held on the occasion of the official hand-over of the Magdeburg – city on the Elbe-themed playground to the large and small citizens of Magdeburg.

An impressive playground and leisure area has thus been created in Magdeburg’s Rotehorn park. The costs of construction of the adventure activity site were in the region of €500,000.”This playground is not only intended for use by the local district but by the city as a whole,” stressed Lord Mayor Trümper during his speech. “Please bear in mind that this playground cost us half a million euros. So let’s all do our best to ensure that it is still as attractive in three years time as it is today,” he continued. The playground at the foot of Mag deburg’s look-out tower was designed with the objective of creating a recreational area that would have transregional relevance. In the early stages of planning, the question also arose of what form would be appropriate for a playground with a thematic connection to Magdeburg sited in the ‘green heart’ of the city. An integrated concept was also to be used for the play and leisure facilities to provide for cross-generational recreational options.
“Over something like seven years now, we have been consulting children and adolescents when planning a new playground. Each playground is then designed in line with an individual thematic concept,” explained Simone Andruscheck, Director of Magdeburg’s Department of Urban Parks and Cemeteries. Young people also provided input for the design of the new skate park in the municipal park. To date, Andruscheck has seen only positive outcomes as a result of this approach. “It’s not just that the resultant playgrounds are more imaginative and appealing; we now have next to no problems with regard to vandalism and graffiti. I think our strategy must have something to do with this.”

On the basis of the main theme of Magdeburg – city on the Elbe, three categories were defined that were to be integrated in the design of the playground. The planners of the Department of Urban Parks and Cemeteries then asked school children and children from day-care-facilities to paint and model their own ideas for designs derived from the three subject areas Elbe and river landscapes together with the worlds of regional animals and plants, transport and inland navigation and the ‘Red Horn’ legend, after which the park is named. The details of the invitations to tender for the construction of the playground equipment were then based on the children’s suggestions and thus guided the efforts of the equipment manufacturers in the right direction.

Children attending the following were involved in the idea generation process: the Hegelgymnasium secondary school, the nursery school of the ‘Am Elbdamm’ primary school, the special needs school ‘Am Wasserfall’, the ‘Mandala’ day-care centre, the Hegelstrasse Protestant primary school facility, the Familienhaus Magdeburg e.V. and the ‘Am Glacis’ primary school.

It should be pointed out that the initial proposal for the construction of the playground in the municipal park originated within Magdeburg’s own 2010 – 2015 (2025) playground scheme. The site in the municipal park was selected because it was a central location that had relevance beyond and outside the immediate region and was also interesting with regard to tourism. In addition, the municipal park was able to boast only one other playground and recreational area (Fort XII/Jägerhütte) so that a considerable demand for such facilities became apparent through the proposal.

The unique attribute of the ‘Am Aussichtsturm’ playground near the look-out tower is the fact that it is integrated in the grounds of an historic, listed park. Rotehorn municipal park was first laid out in 1871 on a site that was just over 61 acres in extent and was designed by the then Director of Gardens, Paul Niemeyer. In the late 1890s, Director of Gardens Johann Gottlieb Schoch added the Elbe island near one of the old river cut-offs to the park facilities. The historic park today covers an area of nearly 495 acres and is thus the largest park in Magdeburg.

An integrated concept was used for the design of the play and recreational areas and the various sections offer play and exercise options targeted at different age groups. The ‘Biberburg’ – beavers’ lodge – section, for example, is designed for use by children aged 3 to 6 years, while the Rotehorn ‘Elbe tugboat’ and its on-board water-sand pit attraction are accessible to all, even wheelchair users. Another section has outdoor fitness equipment designed to encourage senior citizens and adults to take exercise. The playground and recreational amenity has also been provided with two table tennis tables and tables for various board games.

Thanks to its central location, the playground and recreational area can be said to symbolise Magdeburg itself. It was planned by the city’s own Department of Urban Parks and Cemeteries. Photos: SFM (Magdeburg Department of Urban Parks and Cemeteries) /// Spielart GmbH

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