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15.04.2015 - Ausgabe: 2/2015

Appelhoff: A Quarter on the Move

by Bernward Benedikt Jansen (WFP LandschaftsArchitekten werkstatt freiräume +)


Two new multigenerational play and recreational areas liven up a quarter characterized by apartment complexes.

Two new play and recreational areas have been created in the Hamburg district of Alt Steilshoop, near the well-known Neu-Steilshoop settlement and situated among multi-storey apartment complexes dating from the 1970s. One is on the lowland section of the Seebek greenway on the Appelhoff Pond, which serves as a local recreation area; the other on the greenway that runs east-west. Both spaces offer exciting, multigenerational options for play and exercise: the new "Play and Recreational Area for Young and Old at Appelhoff Pond" and the "Steilshooper Straße Play and Recreational Area".

The projects were embedded into the programs "Active City District Development 2005-2008" / "Framework Program for Integrated City Development" (Rahmenprogramm Integrierte Stadtteilentwicklung, or RISE) and "Mobility and Open Space for the Elderly in the City", and received the associated co-financing. As a result, the projects had great support, both in terms of budgeting and specialized, expert guidance. Thanks to the voluntary involvement of the district advisory council active in the quarter, it was possible to have intensive resident and user participation and take all age groups into consideration.

In the context of multiple workshops, visions for play, leisure and exercise were developed for the quarter. Well over 100 children, young people and adults of all generations, including two kindergartens, the local elementary school, and youth centre along with all interested residents took part in a public forum with workshops, planned in collaboration with the district advisory council. In addition, an "exercise and fitness course" was developed and constructed (with consultation from sports scientists) around Appelhoff Pond, thanks to the financial support of the senate program "Mobility and Open Space for the Elderly in the City".

The redesign created spaces for play and recreation that encourage and facilitate exercise. They also offer critical options for children and young people with mobility restrictions who come from socially disadvantaged families. There is also a day-care centre with a small external area, which allows the centre to plan outdoor activities.

The multigenerational planning developed spatial designs that enable people from all age and user groups to be active with and near one another. Criteria here include in particular the most extensive accessibility possible (apart from the sand play areas), open development and equipment with seating for the individual areas as well as the fundamental, age-independent functionality of each section. This provides space for exercise and group activities as well as adequate options for visitors to retreat and have space to themselves.

The play areas of both places have their own mottos, created by the children, which resulted in interesting themes: at "Appelhoff Pond", visitors dive into the history of the location − the "apple orchard" − and encounter a small, historical fruit plantation with horse and wagon, various climbing silos and a tractor, a farm shop and a small fruit plantation. The "Steilshooper Straße" is designed as an urban jungle, with a huge giraffe sculpture with a long slide and many small and large play options along the edge of a tree and bush structure, through which a play trail runs.

The exercise areas offer multigenerational options: Appelhoff Pond has a beach volleyball court, a streetball court, a small football field with an artificial playing surface, trampoline and table tennis tables. An exercise and fitness course with seven stations, each with different types of equipment, runs around the pond itself. Users were involved in the process of selecting equipment from various manufacturers. After the opening of the area, on-site trainers offered visitors instructions on how to use the equipment. In the context of day-to-day use, a local public sports association organizes additional options for group activities. In order to reduce the common inhibitions about use for the representatives of the older generations, the exercise and fitness equipment were placed in locations that are "sheltered" but nonetheless inviting. In this way, visitors can make use of the equipment without feeling that they are "on display". The selection of equipment tended more towards movement than "strength training", as well as the needs and abilities of the "50+ generation".

For several years now, the two youth centres from the neighbouring districts of Neu-Steilshoop and Bramfeld have organized sailing activities for children with small Optimist boats in the summer. Thanks to the active support of the AZB - Ausbildungszentrum Bau in Hamburg GmbH (Centre for Construction Training) in the district, a small half-timbered structure with storage for the boats was built and is used as a "sailing house". The cooperation of the AZB also resulted in the installation of a pergola in the central seating area of the "jungle playground" at the Steilshooper Straße.

A small activity course (developed by Austrian sports scientist Dr Werthner), a rope-climbing area, a natural stone climbing wall, a streetball area, a small football field with an artificial playing surface and one of the best tobogganing hills in Hamburg round out the available options.

Many meeting and resting options for all age groups were created. They include a lawn for sunbathing and play, barbecue stations, picnic benches with game tables, and stage areas for rehearsals and festivals for the groups and institutions active in the quarter (the school had a power supply to the stage installed at their own expense), a chess area and various options to relax: on a round bench under a lofty pine tree with a view of the pond, sitting or lying on the terrace along the shore of the pond, or on one of the many benches in the area. There is plenty of space for everyone to withdraw and take it easy. The "Steilshooper Straße" play and leisure area also offers such special places, one of which is covered with a pergola, another with an amazing fireplace with granite blocks for tables and chairs.

The conceptual selection of the equipment for play and leisure areas took place in the context of the intensive participation process. Diversity of use was critical in this: space to relax, to play sports, keep fit, play, or simply observe. Simple yet robust materials were chosen for the basic equipment.

Trees and bushes shape and add structure to the play and leisure spaces; the existing tree population was maintained to the greatest extent possible. The new play areas in the Steilshooper Straße were installed in a shallow, meadow-like base structure.

Thanks to the involvement of the district association, hundreds of flowering plants were planted in the vegetation areas; they make for an inviting space in the spring.

The play and leisure areas opened to the public in 2009 and 2012; since that time, they have had regular and intensive use from the inhabitants of the quarter and − increasingly − visitors from other districts in the city. In addition, the events and festivals organized by the locally active groups, institutions and district associations have brought new life into the quarter. Apart from that, the spaces receive intensive use from the people in the quarter and beyond. As a result, they are and remain lively and important places for leisure activities in the educational, institutional, extracurricular and familial realms.

For the "Appelhoff" quarter, the redevelopment of the play and leisure spaces has made a major contribution to the "Integrated City Development" program − the motto of which sums it up nicely: "Hamburg, Your Pearls".


Project Information:

Principal contractor: The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. Wandsbek district authority. Department of the Economy, Construction and the Environment. Management of public space

Contact person: Raimar Iselt. Urban Park Planning

Sandra Sporleder. Office of Social Environment Management. Department of Social Services, Youth and Health. Integrated city district development

Planning: WFP LandschaftsArchitekten, werkstatt freiräume +. Bernward Benedikt Jansen, Eng. Grad., Landscape Architect and Moderator


Integration into the Hamburg program "Active City District Development 2005 - 2008", / 2009, transition to the "Framework Program for Integrated City Development" (RISE), subject area Appelhoff

Senate program "Mobility and Leisure Space for the Elderly in the City"



Photo: WFP LandschaftsArchitekten werkstatt freiräume +


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