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15.02.2014 - Ausgabe: 1/2014

An attraction for Büsum residents and holidaymakers

By Malgorzata Hendrix, Seebauer, Wefers und Partner GbR


The coast of Büsum has been the site of an extensive revamp and upgrade since 2012. As part of the project, the old tourist sites from the sixties are being given a complete overhaul, brought up to date and adapted to the expectations of today's holidaymakers. In addition to the popular green dyke, one of Büsum's main attractions, there is also the Perlebucht family lagoon with its sandy beach, creating an artificially constructed island.

With two water basins that are independent of the tide, Perlebucht island offers plenty of space for water sports. Büsum is an excellent spot for kite surfers as well as swimmers and bathers. The large sandy beach provides ample space for letting off steam and playing and the elevated promenade offers a fantastic view of the North Sea as well as access to Wadden Sea World Heritage. This makes it a very popular site for visitors of Büsum. Over the years, however, it has become rather outdated and no longer meets the needs of the visitors.

The building contractors of Büsum Health & Tourism Service were required to create a site that would be attractive and appealing to both residents and holidaymakers of all ages. When planning the revamp, particular attention was paid to families and children. The old individual pieces of play equipment scattered about the large area were to be replaced with a playground that would encourage the children to get active, stimulate their imaginations and appeal to the different senses. It was also important to create places for the children's parents to sit and relax. In a nutshell, everyone should feel comfortable and enjoy spending time at the family lagoon.

"The local authority of Büsum has invested in the play area (Perlebucht family lagoon) because children are the future of Büsum. Families are an important target group for Büsum – a group that has visited the North Sea spa town frequently for several generations. This is why it is especially important to invest in the next generation and to ensure that children on holiday are happy and pass on this feeling to their own children.
The new play area offers children the chance to let off steam, dig in the sand and try out the different equipment such as the trampoline, climbing apparatus, slide etc. Meanwhile, their parents can keep an eye on their children whilst relaxing in a beach chair. Sporty families really get their money's worth in the central area of the island. Whether it's surfing, kite-surfing or beach volleyball, there are plenty of physical activities on offer," says Mayor Maik Schwartau.

The family area is nestled in the newly developed dune landscape, which is a perfect invitation for relaxation and unwinding. To appeal to as many age groups – children as well as teenagers – as possible, the adventure play area was developed as a two-part construction. For the older ones (or perhaps rather the more daring), the double mast climbing net is now in a more distinguished, open place and enables the fearless victors to look out onto Wadden Sea or to the town concealed behind the dyke. The crow's nest reaches 10.30 metres above sea level and is therefore significantly higher than the breakwater at 8.40 metres above sea level. The red flag of the Büsum crabs at the top of the mast signifies great fun and people can see this from far away.

The second part of the play area (the Büsum crab) is situated in a slightly more sheltered place behind the green dunes. This area is primarily aimed at smaller children, although nobody could be bored here! The crab provides endless opportunities for play as almost anything is possible here: playing in the sand, swinging, climbing, jumping, seesawing, sliding etc. The basic idea behind the planning, as with the double mast net, was to create a prominent basic structure that would be clearly visible from the dyke and that would house a wide range of play activities. The Büsum crab – an omnipresent Büsum speciality, which is well-known amongst visitors – was the inspiration for the basic structure of our play area, which is supported by the red steel arches. The individual parts of the crab were then designated specific play areas: the jaws serve as a sand workshop, the house in the crab's body provides shelter from wind and weather and hides small surprises and games, the climbing tunnel in its stomach twist towards the core in a similar direction to the large slides and the tail of the crab also acts as a wide slide. The playground landscape also features communal areas for spending time, for example, hammocks, picnic areas and barbeques. Deckchairs are also set up in the dunes. This means parents can watch their children playing whilst relaxing in the North Sea sun.

The local authority also pursued the need for inclusion when revamping Perlebucht. One important aspect during the planning phase therefore was creating play areas that could be used by all children. This is why wheelchair and pram-friendly access was developed, making it much easier for people to get to the play areas situated in sand and making individual play activities accessible to users with limited mobility. Attention was also given to the concept of versatile usability when selecting the play elements. For example, special bucket seats were used in the swings instead of standard seats, a nest swing was erected, together with a wide, lower slide that could be used by more than one person at once, and a wheelchair accessible table was constructed in the sand pit. The circular path, which is secured with rubber matting, leads to each of the play spots and gives everyone the chance to share in the whole play experience.

Strong enough to withstand Cyclone Xaver

One of the challenges faced by the planners from Seebauer, Wefers und Partner and Berliner Seilfabrik, which took on the design of the project, was also the decision regarding the actual location of the site. Situated right by the North Sea, the play area is regularly flooded. This is why only very resilient and durable materials could be used. All steel elements, if not made from V4A stainless steel, were powder coated after hot-dip galvanisation in order to provide strong corrosion protection. Wood in the base area was given stainless steel cleats and hardwearing plastic panels were used. The planners also attempted to minimise the number of sealed surfaces in the flooding zone. A number of ropes were also used, which were fully manufactured with stainless steel cores to provide better corrosion protection. More compact network structures for the climbing nets were also arranged above the flooding level. Unlike with standard installations, the steel parts of both sets of play equipment were initially built in the hall and the rope then manufactured exactly to measure. The water-related and exposed position of the play equipment also required special preparation in the assembly: a structural analysis had to be prepared for the large special foundations and the floor compacted accordingly.
Conclusion: Even Cyclone Xaver, which struck in December 2013, didn't manage to damage the play area.

On 24 May 2013, the Perlebucht family lagoon celebrated its opening and was handed over to the people. The children took to the play equipment straight away and it is still very popular at less pleasant times of the year.

Photos: Berliner Seilfabrik




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