FSB 2017 will showcase recent developments in the amenity area, sport and pool facility sectors
Playground@Landscape interviews Arne Petersen, Divisional Head of the Cologne trade fair event organisation
Playground@Landscape: During the past FSB fair, playground-related products were on display in Hall 9. According to the allocation plans for the upcoming fair, the sector will be in Hall 7 at FSB 2017, and will have to share this area with the pool facility branch. Why this new arrangement?
Arne Petersen: It's true that we've put together the categories 'Public baths' and 'Playground equipment' in Hall 7 for FSB 2017; our aim is to make clearer for both exhibitors and visitors the symbiosis that exists between the two. Decision-makers at local authority levels who are responsible for public pools also have the amenity facilities in and around public swimming baths within their remit, and that includes the play areas associated with these. All public baths, privately-owned pools and leisure parks not only offer water-themed amusements but also play equipment and activity sites designed to add to the enjoyment of their adult and child visitors. Hence, local authority representatives and other operators of swimming pools and amusement parks will find all the latest product innovations and relevant suppliers in both sectors consolidated in the one hall at the FSB. We think this will provide an optimal environment for our customers.
P@L: Herr Petersen, in the run-up to the FSB, you always seem to devise original ideas. What can visitors to this year's fair expect with regard to the topics of amenity areas and playgrounds?
Arne Petersen: There will be a major emphasis on multigenerational outdoor fitness exercise concepts at FSB 2017 and at subsequent fairs. The model project in Cologne's green belt area that we undertook in collaboration with the city's green foundation 'Grün Stiftung', its parks and sports departments and FSB exhibitors has provided food for thought and we are currently developing further ventures ‒ there is still much that needs to be achieved when it comes to the provision of exercise amenities in the urban environment.
A new theme that we're currently working on with the Federal Association of German Play Equipment and Recreational Facility Manufacturers (BSFH) for FSB 2017 is that of the 'playground as exercise space' ‒ something that we consider to be particularly relevant. In Cologne, for example, there is likely to be a growing demand for new schools in the next ten years and for renovation of the existing structures. This is because the city is expecting the influx of some 250,000 new inhabitants. It is essential at an early stage to make sure that an adequate educational and physical activity infrastructure is in place to meet the needs of integration, schooling, play and sport. Here an important aspect is that of ensuring that pupils spend their breaks during the school day in both beneficial and physical activities. We are already in discussion on related potential model projects with the city authorities. We should be able to put our initial ideas on the table by the time of the FSB in November and hope to be able to successively realise these subsequently. This is an exciting and future-orientated area that conforms perfectly with the underlying concept of the FSB.
P@L: Events are always an important aspect of the FSB. Could you give us an idea of what will be on this year's programme?
Arne Petersen: There is much, of course, that is still in the process of being planned and organised, but there are several highlights that I can already tell you about. As part of the event programme, the BSFH will again be offering TÜV training seminars. Participants in these will be awarded certificates that will be recognised qualifications. The topics to be dealt with include subjects such as playground safety, the German playground standard DIN EN 1176, the new German standard for playground inspectors and an introduction to the BSFH guideline on outdoor school amenities. To coincide with the FSB, the German branch of IAKS will be holding a conference on the aspects of sustainability and innovation in connection with sports and leisure facilities. The 25th IAKS Congress on the planning, construction modernisation and management of sports and leisure facilities will also be taking place on the occasion of the FSB fair. Both events will be looking at global trends and developments in the sector. We are also arranging for a series of talks to be given by our partners DSOB, the German sports umbrella association, BDS, the association of German pool supervisors and the journal 'Stadt und Raum'. I'm afraid you'll have to be a little patient ‒ in some two months I will be able to give you more definite details on what will be happening.
P@L: And what other highlights are there in the rest of the fair programme?
Arne Petersen: At the FSB, we have always invited visitors to 'join in' ‒ in other words, we don't just put products from the various sectors on display but combine these with attractive opportunities for actually using them. So, in addition to viewing what exhibitors have to offer in Hall 7, visitors will also be able to take part in aquafit sessions and use an ice rink. I would thus strongly advise everyone to bring their swimwear and ice skates with them. We will again be setting up a basketball court in Hall 9 where children, amateurs and even professional players will be able to put their skills on display and anyone can enjoy themselves. The theme in Hall 10 will be outdoor sports: there will be a mini-stadium and other features that will make it possible to try out the various state-of-the-art surfacings now available for use in sports facilities. And there will be impressive displays relating to the various fair topics outdoors along the fair boulevard. I can assure prospective visitors that they will again enjoy a fascinating experience.
P@L: For our sector, the relevant administrators at the local authority level are particularly important. How will you attract more decision-makers to Cologne and to FSB 2017? What are you doing? What can we do?
Arne Petersen: We will be making it even easier and more productive for top level local authority decision-makers to visit the fair. Our VIP service has developed a system that enables us to identify and contact the main players. Of course, we are also collaborating here with businesses and the association partners who already have excellent contacts within the sector. It is quite apparent that visitors ‒ including local authority administrators ‒ will only attend a fair if it offers themes, events and innovative products from which they can benefit. We thus need the businesses in the sector to supply us as soon as possible with information on the trends, new products and developments in their sector.
P@L: With regard to local authority administrators and landscape architects as well ‒ are numbers of visitors to the FSB from these target groups increasing?
Arne Petersen: As I said, we are taking steps to ensure that we are more successful when it comes to appealing to the local authority decision-makers, planners and architects. Our activities of past years have already borne fruit and we are thus seeing a significant increase in visitors from these groups. One of the main reasons for this is doubtless the placing of greater emphasis on the appropriate themes that are relevant to these target groups. And the scheduling of the FSB outside the autumn holiday period is another factor contributing to this positive development. We have the ability to readily reach our target groups in the most populous German state, North Rhine Westphalia, but also throughout Germany and convince them that they will be able to discover topics and innovations that will interest them if they visit Cologne.
The interviewer was Thomas R. Müller (Playground@Landscape)
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