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15.04.2015 - Ausgabe: 2/2015

Individual planning as standard


In the north of Berlin in Freiheitsweg in the district of Reinickendorf there is a new climbing structure, which leaves no room for boredom. In the last year an area of more than 1500 m² alongside the Füchse Berlin Club sports ground has been turned into a theme park for all generations. 

For the town and country planner, Alena Kniesche, who implemented this project in collaboration with the Reinickendorf District Authority and the Berliner Seilfabrik, it is the first project of this size she has undertaken. She has been completely successful in implementing this diverse construction project and in doing so, has taken account of the most varied of issues, such as creating new challenges, inclusive play, the under-3’s and the neighbouring sports centre. 


The initial situation


There has been a "playground" on the site for absolute ages. However, simply because equipment was added piece by piece, there was no discernible overall design concept. An EU grant provided the Reinickendorf District with fresh financial resources for this neglected area. They wanted for something new and modern, something for the little children and also for the older children, in a plan which would include equipment already in place and still intact.

The District Authority supplied the basic idea for the large open area: they wanted a sort of course, something challenging, which would both be fun for adolescents and older children and would also attract smaller children. Ms Kniesche divided the play area in its outlines into two parts. This created an area for toddlers and another area, presenting challenges to the older children and adolescents over a vast climbing structure.


Concentration and high spirits


The town and country planner devised the climbing structure so that it is possible to go from one end of the playground to the other without touching the ground, by going up a nine metre high central tower overlooking the area, passing through a huge variety of climbing units, such as flat nets, climbing ropes, monkey bars, a loop rope or slack lines leading to another space net device, known as a space ball. This space net device had been in place on the area for some years previously and led the cat burglars over a rope bridge to a field with rubber mats.

"This part of the playground was still in such good condition that it could be kept exactly as it is," said Alena Kniesche. The modular system from the Berliner Seilfabrik allowed me to link the new units of the course on the one side and play houses on the other side with the old equipment." The part with the rubber matting was easy to connect to the bamboo style tree houses from the Greenville range of products. From these 'Triis' a long curved slide leads towards the 'face-to-face swing'. The big swing with the arched posts offers seats for six "children" and possibly also gives the chance for a little rest before it leads back again across the course towards the central tower. The colour concept for the area takes inspiration from the club colours of the neighbouring Füchse Berlin Sports Club. The ropes shine orange and red between the green posts. A shield in the form of a fox's head stands proudly on a three metre high pillar ('Füchse' means 'fox'). Faithful to the motto of Füchse Berlin especially here and in high spirits elsewhere the climbing children give the clear message: "This is our stamping ground."


Under 3's finding the courage


The area for the smaller children allows those who are not so experienced in swinging hand over hand and balancing, to find the self-confidence to practise for the first time. Here, there is a little low ropes landscape combined with tree houses, which have been especially sited in the more shaded area of the park. This allows the young budding mountaineers to have their own experiences on flat nets, high wire and play houses. The 'Trii' tree houses are play houses enhanced with bamboo panels, which leave enough niches and holes to hide in and peer out from. Once over the access net or up the ladder and through the bridge to the other little tower, you can come back down a small slide. The bamboo panels are not only effective as hiding places and barriers, they also offer extra shade for sensitive skin, especially for really tiny toddlers. Bamboo is also more environmentally-friendly than ordinary wood. Botanically speaking it is a type of grass and when it is harvested it grows back again, in this case, at an astonishing one metre per day.

In and around the area there are other items of sports apparatus, which blend in with their surroundings. Thus, as part of the course you can, for example, relax on the horizontal bars or train for the next athletics lesson on the parallel bars.


Inclusive Play


Play spaces for people with disabilities have become increasingly important. Inclusive Play means making play equipment accessible. The re-design of the play park in Freiheitsweg took this into consideration. Therefore there is, for example, a nest swing right on the path, which leads along the park from the entrance to the playground. The big, plate-shaped swing allows the user to use it lying down. Elsewhere a ramp has been attached to the equipment; this was budgeted for at the request of the mother of a disabled child. The mother had approached the District Authority in the past to explain that her child would find it considerably easier to get onto a climbing structure if entry were by an inclined surface.



Personal details:

Since 2012 Alena Kniesche has been one of the eight team members from the Technical Department of the Berliner Seilfabrik Company. Previously she studied Town and Country Planning at the Technical University of Berlin. She now works in the planning and development sector and in this area is responsible for in-house projects, which particularly need individual design. "Of course, I especially enjoy the projects with special factors. These may be old equipment which has to be re-used, diverse areas which have to be integrated or natural features such as hills or the tree population on site, which have to be incorporated into the planning. We recently concluded a project for a large climbing structure in a shopping centre. That really is an unusual setting for extraordinary play equipment."


Photo: Berliner Seilfabrik

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