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15.10.2019 - Ausgabe: 5/2019

A cleverly devised themed playground in a confined space at Hannover Airport

© Spiel-Bau GmbH

As globalisation progresses and populations grow, conurbations expand and green spaces increasingly fall victim to development and constructions. New blocks of flats, industrial estates and building complexes come to occupy open space where children could once play. The environment around us is becoming progressively built-up, so that playgrounds are restricted to narrowly circumscribed spaces. 

It should be a priority on our part to try to counteract this trend. And where this is impossible, we need to find alternative ways of finding space for children and getting the best possible potential out of the limited areas on offer. 

And these spaces must be designed so that they provide everything children require and they have the same opportunities to develop those skills that they would otherwise be able to practice on more generously proportioned playgrounds. 

We all know the drill at holiday time: through security checks to the gate and then onto the plane that'll take us to our destination. 

But until then, children can already practice going on holiday in the mini-airport on the roof terrace at Hannover Airport. Up, up and away! 

At Hannover Airport, even before chocks away, children can discover through play all the details of what it means to get on a flight to go somewhere - from arriving with the car, going through security, take-off and then arrival at the holiday destination. 

In reality, of course, there tends to be a lot of boring waiting around at an airport between luggage and crowds of people and to offer children diversion, an appropriately themed playground has been created on a space area roughly 250 m² in extent on a roof terrace of the airport. 

It was the operator who came up with the initial concept and they commissioned Creative ATelier based in Brandenburg/Havel together with Spiel-Bau GmbH, also from Brandenburg, to realise it for them. 

The objective was to construct an entertaining playground that could be used by visitors to the airport, thus enhancing its attractiveness and making it more into a venue for adventure. The main target group is families with children as Hannover Airport is mainly used by airlines flying to holiday destinations. A complicating factor in connection with the project was the area available - a small terrace on the roof of the airport building, so a particularly compact and space-saving design was required. 

A play aircraft was already in place and this was to be included in the final concept. The colour scheme and typeface used were to correspond with the corporate identity design employed at the airport. 



Although the whole playground has a single unifying theme, there are separate sections dedicated to specific aspects, creating a storytelling thread. 

At the first point of their journey, the children can use bobby cars to reach the 'airport'. There are rotatable traffic lights to ensure there are no accidents on the way. Once they've parked and left their vehicles, they can now enter the 'airport building' where mounted to the right is a display board showing current arrival and departure times. This arrival terminal with displays and entrance has been mainly constructed from steel box profile sheets and HPL; the lettering on this was cut by hand. The arrivals and departures display is made of adhesive film and can readily be modified. Below the boards are containers with chalk sticks. The children can thus exercise their creativity and decide whether the destination of their next flight is London or even the Moon. 

Once they've decided where they're going, it's time to check in their baggage. This is provided in the form of a row of spring platforms with the shape and colouration of luggage. Children can jump, balance and sit on these - particular fun for the little ones. And playing with these, many children doubtless imagine themselves running along the baggage carousel. 

Next is the X-Ray play tunnel where the little visitors are 'screened' as it were and there is the opportunity for taking amusing family photos. This thus just not only provides entertainment for the kids, but also enjoyment for parents, encouraging integrative play. Particularly intriguing are the various x-ray-related details that the designers have carefully incorporated. The play of light and shade on the floor of the tunnel as sunlight penetrates through the cavities in the roof additionally generates a sense of the fantastic, and is intended to suggest the effect of x-rays. 

Following this is a play security gate with a special, additional feature. When users pass through it, an electronic sensor is activated that randomly decides whether a green or red light is displayed. Coloured acrylic sheets in the housing provide for the appropriate shades. Technical gimmicks of this kind are particularly popular with children. 

Having passed through security, the children can now climb into the scaled-down aircraft fuselage or, if they prefer, into one of its 'turbines'. 

At the end of their trip, they come face to face with two palm trees with a hammock slung between them - they've finally reached their destination and it's time to enjoy the holiday. Here they can take a short rest before re-entering the real airport itself. 

The floor surfacing conforms to the overall concept and has been made of seamless EPDM impact-attenuating panels. Blue tints are used on most of the equipment with red, orange and yellow details to provide for diversity. The floor surfacing is also red, blue and sand-coloured. The section with its red-patterned surfacing represents the airport runway. Next is the aircraft, travelling through a blue sky with the blue sea under it and finally, there is the transition to an island. 

The whole of the playground is characterised by the astute use of colours. Dark patterning on the deck serves to provide a visual unifying effect while contrasting with the coloured elements. 

The equipment encourages children to exercise to compensate for the long periods when they'll be queuing and sitting in the plane. They can skip, crawl, run and do whatever takes their fancy. If they need to relax after all this, there is the hammock at the end of the trail. 

As we know, physical exercise is important for the motor and sensory development of children and here activity is combined with perception. Children most readily pick up information and experience through play so that cognitive development is also promoted. 

Balancing, hopping and jumping activities can be quite a challenge, especially for younger children. They need to be able to control their bodies and coordinate their movements. Not only this, but activities such as this can help release pent-up energy and even dissipate aggression.

Role play, in addition to play-acting as a family or undertaking an adventure, often involves becoming someone in a particular profession. This type of play is very important for emotional development. Children learn how to play together, gain the attributes required for social interaction and discover that it is necessary to respect and show consideration for other children. And through this, they discover themselves - the value of the experience gained is enormous. Themed playgrounds are venues that are eminently suitable for role play. 

When designing this playground, emphasis was not only placed on providing for exercise but also on ensuring that children learn something. By passing through the various features, children can recreate and internalise the experience of what actually happens at an airport. And perhaps among the little users there will be one or two future pilots or cabin crew.


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