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15.10.2019 - Ausgabe: 5/2019

“I like it here!”

By Martin Karl, Dipl. Ing. (FH), Planning Department Freiraum Plan

© Freiraum Plan

Twenty-four crèche children, 50 kindergarten children and 25 after-school care children are looked after in the ‘Haus für Kinder’ centre in the Bogenhausen district of Munich. The crèche, kindergarten and after-school care children form one group inside the centre. The rooms and the garden have been designed in such a way so as to inspire children to realise their creative ideas and offer plenty of space to play, run wild and exercise – it’s great for the kids. 

The story of how it came about and the problems encountered: the city of Munich was under pressure. It had been the subject of a legally-based demand for the provision of enhanced childcare facilities since August 2013. But suitable, undeveloped parcels of land are rare in Munich. So it was also a challenge to decide on the location and form of the plot of land for the construction of a childcare establishment.  Both internal architecture and outdoor planning were a particular requirement here. In order to satisfy all the requirements, such as adhering to emissions level requirements, nature conservation and the stipulation of building authorities and to make sure that the project, located at a busy traffic junction, did not fall flat on its face, repeated modifications needed to be made in all phases. The end product of the collective efforts of all involved is something they can be truly proud of! The whole facility was chosen by the architects of the Bavarian Chamber of Architects for commendation in their architecture and outdoor installations categories. 

 The outdoor installations concept – what was available?

As a result of the special shape of the plot of land used, the high soundproofing wall bordering the street, which was stipulated in the design, and the protruding row of trees in the western section, there was only a narrow, extended open space with slopes on either side. How should this situation be handled from a planning perspective? How large an area would be available for the children to exercise in?


Realising the design – we need an idea!

The outdoor area was basically split into two sections - an infants’ section in the northern garden courtyard and the more open southern section as a play area for the larger children. 

Both play sections are dominated by a soundproofing wall made of concrete that stretches to heights of 4.5m – 6m. Now it was a question of working out the advantages of the imposing walls as far as children’s play was concerned, and despite the dominating aspect of the walls, to try and provide them with a friendly overall appearance. 

The idea came about to integrate play functions into the wall areas like a string of beads in order to maximise the available exercise area. Playhouses hang like ‘bird houses’ on the long surface of the wall and, gathered in front of them, there are wooden posts with play elements incorporated into them designed to offset the oppressive height of the wall.  In addition, there are several windows in the concrete walls that allow a view from inside to outside and vice-versa. 

One of the fundamental ideas was to have vertical planting areas on both sides of the walls. The children’s play area also has several tree trunks which are encircled with sturdy and vigorous climbing wood. The desired effect of this process is to create a ‘jungle environment’ over the course of several years, making sure that the soundproofing wall becomes increasing less apparent over the course of time. The colourful design of the equipment was modelled on the style of the building structure. 


Infants’ play area – garden courtyard

The play area, surrounded by walls on three sides, is the most peaceful space in the garden. A sand pit play area surrounded by granite blocks and boulders, with play houses, slides and a neighbouring mud play pit with a bridge over a ‘stream’; all of these combine to offer the youngest children an assortment of play options in the smallest of spaces. 

The water from the handle pump is caught in a tiled channel and can be released to trickle away again at the end of play. The terrace surfaces along the front have been developed in harmony with nature in the form of completely permeable paving made from concrete. The blue and green posts counteract the severe aspect of the soundproofing wall and can be used as mounting points for a bright red awning. 


South-western section – nature area

The narrow play area section with its slopes leading up to the property border has been designed so that is has an ‘edge of the forest’ character and provides a link to the play room situated in the southern section of the property.

The tree tops have been left completely natural as a play element. The wooded area on the slopes provides hiding opportunities and slope stabilisation. The trees’ foliage becomes a natural element of this in autumn. In winter you can even sledge down the slopes. 


Southern section - playroom
 The playroom itself is a recessed, level surface that is characterised by the comprehensive soundproofing wall and the ring of trees. Virginia creeper and the hardy kiwi (Actinidia arguta) provide for a rapid greening of the walls and tree trunks. 

The play options have been created with the facility’s bigger children in mind – they encourage the children to practice their balancing, climbing and hanging, sliding and swinging abilities.

The ‘bird houses’ provide the ideal basis for withdrawal, somewhere to watch the pedestrians and cyclists through the windows and for role-playing games. Thanks to its space-saving configuration, a level surface for free play has been created, which can also be used for parties and events.

Because the site is overshadowed by the trees and is subject to the heavy usage of almost 100 children, wood chips were selected for surfacing in the garden’s entire outdoor area.


More Information:

Freiraum Plan

Rottenried 6

82205 Gilching

Fon 0049-(0)8105-271706



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