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18.02.2019 - Ausgabe: 1/2019

Moving break in Singapore


Celebrate Your Roots – Discover Your Wings is the motto of the German European School in Singapore (GESS). This characterises the school's philosophy in which emphasis is placed on the inculcation of the essentially European values of respect for others, open-mindedness and a sense of community. The private school based in the city-state in Southeast Asia takes in pupils of all ages starting with preschoolers as young as 18 months to students of 18 years and its objective is to become familiar with every individual in its pupil body, to discover their personal strengths and interests and to develop and promote these using a holistic educational approach. GESS concentrates on providing quality to its pupils, both during and outside lesson hours. Hence it aims to supplement and support the cognitive learning undertaken by pupils in the classroom by means of provision of the opportunity for physical exercise during breaks. In addition, social interaction between the pupils is similarly promoted outside the classroom.

A new school building designed to meet the aspirations of the GESS was opened in Dairy Farm Lane at the beginning of the 2018/19 academic year. All preschoolers, primary and secondary level pupils have now been brought together under one roof. The new structure represents the commencement of an exciting new chapter in the history of the school, as the previous two school premises have been amalgamated on a purpose-built, brand-new site.

In compliance with the school's holistic concept, large scale exercise, relaxation and play facilities were created in the course of the construction of the upgraded GESS campus in Singapore. Of particular note in addition to the areas for games and sports, including a football pitch and an Olympic-sized swimming pool, are the newly designed playground areas in the courtyards of the school complex. There are four of these and in them is equipment that is suitable for all age groups.

In the one courtyard are two different combinations of play and rope play houses from the successful ‘Greenville’ range of Berliner Seilfabrik that are linked to each other by means of various connecting elements. The rope play houses consist of 3D rope nets that are spanned within the 'Double Boo' structures designed by the manufacturer. "Rope network configurations of this kind are perfect for school playgrounds," points out Patrick Lee, a playground and schoolyard design consultant based in Singapore and the owner of CT-ART Creation Pte Ltd. "They provide enough room for many children to use them simultaneously and are thus more appealing than standard slides and swings which just one child can enjoy at a time while others can only watch and wait their turn." A further advantage is the fact that children also learn how to deal with each other as they are necessarily forced to interact. Climbing within such 3D spaces also specifically allows them to exercise their psychomotor skills and spatial awareness, something that can be of benefit to them in mathematics lessons, for example.

The playground in this courtyard connects seamlessly with a covered area in which there is a low-level rope course constructed from five different climbing elements. "As the individual elements are of differing difficulty levels, they are attractive for children of all age groups," adds Patrick Lee. This climbing feature thus meets one of the basic demands of the client for whom it is important that the exercise facilities should be such that they can be used by all the various pupil generations at the school.

The completely open design of the play equipment also means that it is fully transparent so that from any viewpoint the teachers are always able to keep an eye on their charges even if a multitude of children are clambering about at one and the same time.

Similarly suitable for school playgrounds is the wave-like 'Shout' structure located in the second play zone of the school's courtyards. Stretched between a framework made of curved metal tubing is a two-dimensional net with differing mesh sizes. In addition to a net tunnel that allows children to mount the entire climbing ring, this play sculpture is supplied with various accessories, including plate steps, banisters and rubber matting.

It is large enough to accommodate more than 200 children at one time, ensuring that they can let off steam during their breaks between lessons. The range of supplementary elements and the height differentials within the structure ensure that 'Shout' represents a challenge for all age groups while the abstract design means that the equipment can also inspire the imagination when it comes to how it is used. "The scope for children to discover new ways to access, climb, employ and experience the structure is almost inexhaustible," continues Patrick Lee. "They have endless opportunities to create their own play concepts, an aspect in line with the principles of the GESS that aims to promote the interests of each and every one of its pupils."

The other large piece of play equipment in this zone is a combination of three Greenville Triitopia towers of different heights linked together by net tunnels. Once children have overcome the climb up, here they'll find a space where they can withdraw and recuperate, recharging their batteries to be able to take on the challenges they'll face in the classroom.

Also in this play zone are two nest swings and a carousel structure, providing forms of movement that have positive effects on the users' development. Swinging as an activity promotes the growth of the vestibular system, in other words, the ability to coordinate the movements of the body and eyes and the sense of balance, while spinning assists kinaesthetic learning by enabling children to master the skills of avoiding falling and colliding with other playmates.

Sited in the third play zone at the GESS is a combination of two elements from the 'Spooky Rookies' range specifically designed for the needs of younger children. Two different means of access a flat ramp and a short staircase make sure that these can be used by all ages and represent, at the same time, a suitable challenge for the very young. Children can train their sense of equilibrium on the close-meshed net bridge and the small slide, getting them ready to take on more ambitious projects in future. Patrick Lee is more than happy with the result: "The shop counter installed in the lower section of the larger playhouse provides the ideal setting for role play. The children have the chance to practice communicating with each other and develop social skills such as empathy through play."

In addition to the high play and exercise value of the equipment, an especial distinguishing feature apparent in all play zones is the organic, elemental nature of the design. "Thanks to the use of basic colours and bamboo panels for the façade elements, it has been possible to extend the green environment of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve directly next door to the GESS into the school courtyards," says Marius Kotte, head of construction and development at Berliner Seilfabrik. "The intention was to use natural design to bring this stimulating environment within the school premises."

The new outdoor areas at GESS represent the realisation of an impressive play and exercise concept that not only appeals across all the pupil age groups but also motivates the children to improve their cerebral, social and psychomotor abilities. 

Image: Berliner Seilfabrik GmbH & Co. 

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