“We want a Quelle Park” – this sentence was written ten years ago by children from the Wandererstraße after-school care centre on the pavement of the former bus park of the Quelle mail-order company. Ten years after the first initiative by the after-school care centre children, the new Quelle Park is inspiring local residents.
Ludwig Lesser Park: leisure park plus adventure and fitness
The key role that physical exercise plays in our health has long been common knowledge. Preventing problems with posture, avoiding weight gain, strengthening the immune system, improving mental health – there are countless benefits for all generations from regular physical exercise. So it is all the more important to create local and freely-accessible exercise spaces that provide as diverse and attractive an offering as possible for sport and play.
In the north-west of Berlin, close to the city boundary with Brandenburg, is the Frohnau district of the borough of Reinickendorf. Originally established as a "garden town", this neighbourhood is still distinguished by its cobbled streets, unsurfaced sandy trails, pine and fir trees and numerous villas built between 1910 and 1930. At the heart of this suburban idyll is Ludwig Lesser Park, a public space which stands out for a natural beauty which makes it an appealing leisure destination to visitors from beyond the local area.
For many years there has been a nature-oriented children's playground on a clearing here which, after becoming run down over the years, underwent an extensive revamp. The result is an exceptionally diverse exercise offering consisting of various play and sports areas that are intended to appeal across the generations.
Anyone coming from the north along the idyllic woodland path to the playground will find a callisthenics facility on the right built by the Berliner Seilfabrik company. Horizontal and pull-up bars at various heights, a rung ladder and monkey bars and parallel bars are ideal for a daily workout with a wide variety of exercises for old and young alike.
"To encourage people to take more physical exercise it is important to provide appropriate incentives and to create an appealing exercise offering", says Juri Boehlke, a trainer with the Waidmannslust gymnastics club in Reinickendorf. "And this is precisely what has been achieved here. The big advantage of a callisthenics facility like the one in Ludwig Lesser Park is that anyone can use it free of charge. There is no need for equipment or membership of a fitness studio to train here. This means that it really is possible for anyone to use the training equipment."
A board with exercise instructions for various muscle groups has been installed close to the callisthenics facility. Smartphone users can scan a QR code to directly access free online tutorials on how to perform individual exercises as effectively as possible. This means fitness beginners are also free to start exercising straight away.
A few steps further along the woodland trail to the large clearing visitors reach an impressive play and climbing area. Here the absolute highlight is a more than ten-metre-high climbing tower. Equipped with two slides and a giant space net inside, Triitopia offers limitless opportunities for fun, adventure and exercise over seven levels.
A space net such as this one not only provides the opportunity to climb to great heights, making it even more appealing to older children but is also beneficial for smaller children, who can climb on several levels in the three-dimensional space. As well as strengthening various muscle groups, climbing in the space net also helps to improve balance, physical feeling and motor skills. In addition, at the neuronal level exercise in three-dimensional space stimulates connection patterns in the brain required for both visual thinking and calculation.
And the play tower is also a real looker. A magical world of climbing and adventure where reality and fiction merge arises from the unpredictable interplay of transparent and closed façade elements that are combined in closely-knit, nestled and asymmetric ways.The predominantly orange and lilac facade elements lend the tower a glowing appearance against the green backdrop of the woodland. At the same time, the embellishment with bamboo panels means the tower blends effortlessly into the natural setting of the park.
Local politicians wax lyrical about the park's new attraction: "Ludwig Lesser Park has gained a very special attraction in the form of the largest slide and climbing tower in Reinickendorf", says a delighted district councillor Katrin Schultze-Berndt, who opened the park along with the district mayor Frank Balzer and children from the nearby schools and nurseries under the slogan "Excitement - play and sport".
Anyone who prefers climbing closer to the ground will be in their element in the neighbouring low-ropes garden. Here eight different climbing elements are interlinked in a circle shape. Climbing, balancing, hanging swinging - this feature offers a variety of different forms of exercise. "Our Terranos & Terranova low-ropes gardens are among the most diverse systems within our product range" says David Köhler, Managing Director of Berliner Seilfabrik. "Most of the components used in Terranos are connected to the straight posts with the Frox connector, keeping shackles and thimbles out of the reach of kids' hands. The Frox is connected to the posts with the help of the Terranos clamp, which is height-adjustable. This means climbing elements can be connected in various directions regardless of topographical conditions."
The individual elements also serve the various difficulty levels of the forms of exercise. As a result, the low-ropes garden is appealing not just to different age groups but also offers users the opportunity to further develop at various levels.
"Balancing, for example, is a form of exercise that not only strengthens the leg and rump muscles but also improves balance, and here basic skills are trained", says Juri Boehlke. "Successfully completing a balance task requires the rapid interplay of skills such as perception, planning, risk assessment, decision-making and reaction. Above all, coordination and concentration are required, i.e. skills that are beneficial at all ages and which can be nurtured in a fun way in a low-ropes garden."
In Ludwig Lesser Park good climbers even have the opportunity to climb through the course without touching the ground. In the middle of the low-ropes course, the reward is an item of rope play equipment which revolves and provides the chance to relax after a climbing session.
The newly-created playground in Ludwig Lesser Park's aspiration to offer cross-generational appeal is illustrated by the extensive infant area which is specially designed to foster the motor and psychomotor skills of children from the ages of 0 to 3. In addition to a sand workshop and a nest swing, the stand-out feature is the playhouse, whose roof and gable elements are in bright orange and purple. The mud play tables in the lower area of the playhouse are ideal for role play, providing the opportunity to foster language and social skills in a fun way. An ascent ramp enables children to crawl up to the upper area of the house before whizzing down the infant-friendly slide – a form of exercise which has a positive effect on spatial perception and enhances the sense of balance and coordination skills of little ones.
The enthusiasm of local residents for the newly-created playground is also reflected in the comments on social media. One visitor writes: "The playground is really great - very well designed and blends seamlessly into the park (…). But the best thing of all is that there is great play equipment for all age groups!“