Taking a playful leap from the 1960s to the 2020s
"Gröpelingen moves": A project for more physical activity in the urban district
By Carlo W. Becker, Friederike Lichtenthal (bgmr Landschaftsarchitekten GmbH Berlin)
The Gröpelingen district in the west of Bremen is home to people of many different cultures. An urban quarter in which urban development, social and spatial issues and the relevant challenges are present in a particularly intensive way.
The urban district was already included in the Socially Integrative City urban development programme by the State of Bremen in 1999 as a result of which the Integrated Development Concept IEK was drawn up in 2014. Under the general heading "Gröpelingen moves", the topics health, sports and exercise were put at the top of the agenda already at an early stage.
The question on how this objective could be achieved had to be answered. Which projects are suitable to integrate sports and exercise, especially low-threshold ones, in the urban district concept? In 2016 and 2017 the concept 'Gröpelingen moves' was thus further developed by the team Proloco from Bremen and bgmr landscape architects from Berlin.
The first step was to identify possible fitness activities as well as the interests of the Gröpelingen population. Which physical activities are attractive and which physical activities are interesting for the different user groups? The result of an intensive participatory process which included the relevant citizens, showed that the activities identified range from jogging, walking to weight training, climbing or spraying. Thus, the results were bundled in a so-called "activity box".
The next step was to find adequate areas or spaces. Which areas in the urban district are actually suitable for the required activities? In order to find the answer to these questions, the activities were allocated to potential sites under the motto: 'activity seeks space'.
In a third step, profiles were elaborated on the basis of the results achieved so far, first and foremost to assess the feasibility, which finally resulted in a project qualification. Questions such as the design of the physical activity, the availability of space, financing and maintenance could thus be clarified in advance.
One of the activity modules is the so-called movement island which is located in the western green corridor. This concept had been repeatedly discussed and agreed upon on several occasions with the participating departments of the Senate, the Bremen Environmental Agency and, above all, the participating citizens, the Gröpelingen project group. As a result, four movement islands were selected, which not only encourage physical activity but also represent a distinctive appearance. Then the station concept for play, exercise and recreation facilities for young and old was given a more definite form and incorporated in the site planning.
The planning area is located in the district of Gröpelingen which belongs to the Bremen city district West. The green space connects the three districts of Gröpelingen, Walle and Oslebshausen. The green corridor is a public park with valuable trees. It is a large green area which is characterised by small sunbathing lawns, tree groves, various small works of art, a playground including a slide, a ball playground, a basketball court and a paved area with a skater ramp. The Westbad (open-air swimming pool), the youth church (Garden of Eden 2.0), the all-day primary school Fischerhuder Straße and the neighbourhood education centre Morgenland are located in the vicinity of the green space. The movement islands are intended to encourage both the residents of the neighbourhood and also other user groups, e.g. pupils from the neighbouring school to become physically active.
The main design features
The concept 'Islands of movement in the midst of a green corridor - large and visible' is intended to stimulate physical activity. It is the physical activity which conveys the feeling something is changing.
What is excercise?
The concept of movement is broadly defined. On the one hand, movement refers to sporting activities such as running, climbing or weight training, but also to concentration exercises. Balancing on a slackline or swinging in the evening sun are also forms of movement.
This broad approach is intended to address different population groups of different ages. Islands of movement are not just a children's playground. They were designed to attract all generations. The important thing is that the movement facilities can be used easily and without much effort. Sports and exercise opportunities should not necessarily be tied to club membership. They should also be available as a sideline in everyday life.
It is planned to build a chain of movement islands (movement stations') in the large green western corridor, which, due to their distinctive appearance, should provide an identity creating effect. Their design should attract the widest possible target group. The movement islands should be visible, not small but rather assigned to the category "XL fitness equipment". Due to the size of the XL device, the islands serve as meeting points and make the thematic focus of movement visible from "outwards". Due to their size, the cross-generational usability and the 'Gröpelingen colours' (red and blue), the movement islands represent the current regional motto called 'Gröpelingen moves'. The four movement islands are intended to develop an aura over the urban district and thus create an image effect. In a later phase it is possible to add further equipment and seating facilities to the excercise islands.
Excercise island 1 - Swing system
The first excercise island is a swing area with three swings. Like a string of pearls, the swing seats hang from a bent steel tube. The steel tube has a dynamically moved basic shape, which creatively transforms the conceptual theme of 'excercise' and thus makes it visible. The large frame connects the individual swings and forms a creative unity. The side-by-side arrangement of the swings enables both young and old to share their joint experience of physical activity.
Exercise Island 2 - Seating and Fitness Sculpture
The seating and fitness sculpture consists of three objects. They are arranged as a seating area and thus serve as a meeting place. The wishes of the users from the youth church 'Garten Eden 2.0.' and the primary school are represented by the sculpture.
Both seating sculptures are similar in their basic form. Their design takes up the conceptual theme of 'excercise'. Steel tubes grow out of the ground and form arches into which the nets are hooked. The users can sit or lie on them at different heights. The seating group is completed by an arch-shaped pull-up bar which rises up to a height of 3m. Here the park visitors can get some exercise.
Excercise island 3 - Balancing course / Balance
Regarding balance and dexterity, a variety of different facilities for bouncing, jumping and balancing are provided. There are concrete bubbles at different heights which serve as stepping stones in the lawn. The balancing ropes, lines and plank bars are stretched between steel posts. Those who like can also install their own slackline. All elements train the sense of balance and are placed in the lawn area between the trees.
Excercise island 4 - slide / acceleration
The slide offers rapid acceleration. Those who slide down several times, will really get going. A slide platform rises elliptically up to a height of 3m. The platform is accessible by ladder. It is framed by a round steel tube. Between the tubes there are some climbable ropes available. In addition, a wave slide and a free fall slide are attached to the slide platform.
The installation and maintenance of the equipment are two important aspects which had to be taken into account during the planning process. On the one hand, the devices should encourage physical activity, and must therefore have special features. On the other hand, they must be robust and durable. Therefore, robustness and ease of maintenance are important criteria when selecting the materials.
The basic construction of the objects is made of galvanised and painted steel pipe. All steel elements are varnished. The nets and ropes are made of spliced Hercules material.
The measure is financed by means of the urban development support programmes called Soziale Stadt and Stadtumbau of the Bremen municipality.
The contracting authority:
The Senator for Environment, Building and Transport - Free Hanseatic City of Bremen.
Concept implemented by:
Landscape Architects bgmr Landschaftsarchitekten GmbH
Web page: www.bgmr.de
Dr Carlo W. Becker, Friederike Lichtenthal, Holger Siemers / Siemers landscape architect (construction management)
Spiel- und Freiraumobjekte
ESF Emsland Spiel- und Freizeitgeräte GmbH & Co KG