Exercise and unwind in the Campus park: The BUGA [Federal horticultural show] Heilbronn has come up with innovative sports facilities under the oldest trees in town, created based on the unusual combination of a gradation tower and calisthenics facilities.
A jungle in the midst of the desert wasteland
By Silke Willems (Die Grünplaner Landschaftsarchitekten Company (green planners and landscape architects))
The so-called Moskaubad is a popular recreational and family waterpark on the outskirts of the city centre of Osnabrück. Its popularity is to a large extent due to its very spacious area. The large open space with its remarkable old stock of trees makes this place very unique which, however, resembles rather a park than a typical sunbathing area of an outdoor swimming pool. The idea to make more from this beautiful green space has already been on the operators' minds for quite a long time. Ideally, this space should be restructured so that the paying guests would be attracted even before and after the open-air swimming pool season which, at best, begins in May and ends in September. The property is crossed by a small creek which is lined with a long and even row of old grand trees. However, that is where the initial idea came from to build a low ropes course along the stream which at the same time would represent an attractive and economically feasible solution for building a new leisure facility.
Hence, the planners were willingly to take up the idea of the operators. During the preliminary planning phase, however, they decided to change the dimension of the project. In order to make this place attractive to its paying guests including out of season, the ropes course between its large trees had to be presented in its best light. The idea of the jungle-like ropes course reminded the planners of Tarzan and Jane, jumping in the jungle from liana to liana. However, it was those spontaneous associations which led to the creation of a jungle path. After the idea was born, the planners had to create the design of an appealingly natural ropes course with different stations, which at the same time should be appropriate for children and in line with the DIN standard and thus usable without protection equipment, but nonetheless highly challenging and also attractive to the more daring adventurers.
Hence, twelve several decade old trees, in particular beech trees, alders and sugar maples should form the backbone of the jungle path. Oaken platforms were positioned at different heights and fixed to the tree trunks which are carried by cut and in part glazed robinia wood. These platforms are all connected by rope and balancing bridges of varying grades of difficulty which are made from different materials. Thus, for example, there are twisted webs, small balancing plates, a wobbly bridge, a climbing tube, a loops bridge and a web bridge.
The first station is suitable for toddlers and is thus equipped with facilities at knee height whereas the highest station – a closed tube of metal in the middle of the path - is up to 3.50 metres high. This height was necessary due to technical reasons to allow the transport of the work equipment to the rear part of the open area. In addition, the planners found it important to take into account the old stock of trees which should neither be truncated nor bored. Besides, they should only bear the rope construction. Several solid spacer bars as well as broad rubber sleeves at the platform should keep the load as low as possible.
However, the jungle path invites to both carefree playing and sporty climbing. In addition, swinging and balancing is equally attractive to both families and to children’s groups. The entries and exits of all stations are accessible at both sides to enable the younger children to move at a moderate height within the obstacle course and reserved climbers to skip the challenging stations. And last but not least, the game can be stopped at any time and it is easy to exit the facilities. But the crowning highlight of the jungle path is a spacious tree house with rustic furniture, a recreational area, in which, for example, a children's birthday party could take place on bad weather days.
Due to the natural habit of the robinia wood, it was almost impossible to create a detailed design plan. That is why a functional tender call was issued. The company to whom the contract should be awarded had to ensure that all expected functions were provided and was responsible for the implementation of the adopted planning draft. However, the winners have indeed done an excellent job. Within eight weeks of time, the jungle path had been constructed in a demanding process of traditional handicraft. A trained scene painter was responsible for the colour programme including finely tuned green tones and the typical red buds at the top of the robinia trunks. A wood carver has created six animal figures, such as a parrot, snake, spider, chameleon and lemur by using a chain saw. Since then, a little monkey called Thilo is the mascot of the animal park.
However, the jungle path is the starting point and centrepiece of another large leisure facility which has been redeveloped in 2017. In order to complete the offer, a water playground, a climbing rock and a trampoline area have been added.
The water playground should replace the former U3 playground. Hence a renovation was planned because the previous equipment had become unattractive. Thus, it was decided to create a natural stream water construction with a water channel shaped by cement and decorated through many large sand stone blocks. Although a water playground in the midst of an outdoor pool area could appear strange, the main focus of the Moskaubad facility is not on swimming and splashing, but on the playful acting with water. Sand, weirs and mud tables allow many different experiences and immediate interaction with the element water. It is here where different flow velocities can be observed, depending on how narrow the passageway is or if the water has been mixed with sand.
Not far away, the trampoline area with its seven different trampolines which have been embedded into the ground, invite its visitors to frolicking around. Children of all ages can jump on the different nets. Depending on the jumping power, they can just jump on one of the individual trampoline nets or jump with large leaps from one to the next trampoline.
But the eye catcher with long-distance effect is the nearly three metres high climbing rock which - according to the planners' demand - has been designed like a monkey head.
In the first year of its operation, the recreational facility has enjoyed enormous popularity.
Even if the aim of using the facilities all year-round has not yet been reached, there are already many visitors who are attracted by the variety of playing options and not just by the outdoor pool area. Every year, for example, a flea market and horticultural market are offered on the large field of the outdoor pool area. In addition, it is possible to celebrate a children's birthday party because upon request of the operators, two rooms have been designed especially for this purpose. And, last but not least, the jungle path provides many playing options, too.
The name of the outdoor swimming pool "Moskaubad" (literal translation: Moscow Bath) has nothing to do with the Russian capital. However, what is probably meant is the mossy floodplain called "the" Moskau. During the Weimar Republic, the Moskaubad of Osnabrück had been constructed as an "outdoor swimming pool centre on the Moskau" in the course of a job creation measure for sports and infrastructure, which was a customary practice at that time. The construction was finished in 1926. The facility was characterised by its 100 metres large tribune which had been aligned exactly parallel to the pool according to the formerly new building design called "Neues Bauen" in German. During the Nazi period the pool facilities were called "Neustädter Schwimmbad" in order to avoid any association with the Soviet Union. After the war, they had gradually come into age. Finally, in the 1990 the outdoor swimming pool has been redeveloped and got back its original name, - the "Moskaubad".
For further information please contact:
Graduate Engineer Udo Holleman, Freelance Landscape Architect
Am Emsufer 15a,
49716 Meppen - Germany
Phone: +49 (0)5931/87503, www.gruenplaner.de
Planification and implementation:
Company Ghepetto, www.ghepetto.de
Photo: Die Grünplaner