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15.04.2021 - Ausgabe: 2/2021

Shiver me timbers: Cast off for boarding

By Marius Hurlbrink and Thomas Ostermeyer (Gruppe Freiraumplanung / company Freiraumplanung Ostermeyer + Partner mbB landscape architects)

© Gruppe Freiraumplanung / Freiraumplanung Ostermeyer + Partner mbB Landschaftsarchitekten

The City Administration of Hamelin has defined the design of the so-called Werderinsel (isle of Werder) as part of the overall urban development concept for the Weser riverbank of September 2017. The project focuses on playing and skating. Based on this concept, a new playground has been created.

In the middle of the Weser river, which flows through the town of Hamelin in Lower Saxony, lies the green island of Werder, which was first opened up to the public in 1999 and is now a popular meeting place for young people. There is a small park, a circular path along the banks of the Weser and the restaurant "Die Insel" with a tea room and beer garden. A golden rat - symbolising the motif of the Pied Piper of Hamelin - is enthroned on the footbridge and directly connects the island and the city centre. 

The "Weser Island of Werder" is one of three projects funded by the federal and state urban development programme "Future Urban Green". In the autumn of 2020, an attractive natural wooden playground with play and exercise facilities for all age groups was implemented at this place.  Located on the important and highly frequented path axis across the Werder, it is both a meeting point for the local people and a "family square", providing sufficient open space for playing and relaxing. 

The design idea mainly focuses on sand play, recreation and water which can be recognised by the visual and structural division of this place into three areas. However, the design creates a thematic and spatial unity which provides an extensive offer for use on around 600 m², including climbing, sliding, swinging, hiding, seesawing, playing with sand and balancing. 

To the north there is the play area with play equipment for children aged six and above. The sand play and toddler area is located on the southern side within sight of the beer garden so that the children can be well supervised. In the centre there is the recreation and lounge area with seating facilities and hammocks. 

The centrepiece of the playground is the stern of a huge shipwreck. Sunk at an angle in the water, it invites its visitors to be climbed onto and explored. A climbing wall, three nets in and on the ship as well as wooden rungs allow the users to climb up to the deck two metres above the ground. From up there, they have an overview of the entire playground. A small bench and a wooden chest serving as seating facility invite them to linger. And a stainless steel slide and slide bar guarantee a quick exit from the sinking ship. The broken and open cladding of the hull allows the users to walk on and look inside. Blue coloured wood chips highlight the water theme. The eye-catching surfacing leads to a stone edge, flows around it in the north and provides a path connection to the adjacent area. 

A rat carved out of wood has taken up residence near the wreck. The rump stretched into the sky is followed by the tail, which is about five metres long and made of a rope on steel springs. The visitors can balance on it or use it as a seat. The rat's head can be seen on the north side of the wreck. The adjacent duo swing invites children to swing together.

The island on the island: A 30 cm raised level forms the centre of the playground, which is defined by an edge made of natural stone. Three large wooden palm trees stand in the sand, with two hammocks between them. Tables made of real wooden barrels and small stools invite the visitors to have picnics in small groups or with their family. A striking solitary tree, the Amur cork tree, provides shade on hot summer days. 

The sand play area begins on the southern side. The sand play hut can be reached via a wooden footbridge which rises up to 60 cm. The footbridge is supplemented by add-on elements, such as a slide, a free-floating net and further climbing facilities. The sand play hut includes a seat, a sand wheel in the side panel and a sand basin with sand bucket. 

There is a large wooden platform with a sand table on the pavement with barrier-free access, which also provides seating options. The platform and the hut are connected via a beam and a sand bucket rope rail. 

Individual wooden posts on the footbridge are designed as flutes while carved rat sculptures pile up on posts, beams and roofs of the playground equipment. The town's history is not forgotten and the Pied Piper of Hamelin thus creates a high degree of recognition.

The colour scheme of the play equipment is based on red, green and blue colour accents in addition to the natural robinia wood. 

At the edge of the playground, there are further seating rows made of natural stones. Furthermore there are two wooden trunks surrounding a solitary tree which also provide a seating area on the adjacent lawn. 

The extensive play offer of the new playground and the multi-layered seating and recreation options attract different target groups while at the same time enlivening the place through different uses and perceptions. The playground presents itself clearly and creates a kind of holiday and relaxing atmosphere in the midst of the fast pace of everyday life. 


Further information:

Gruppe Freiraumplanung 

Freiraumplanung Ostermeyer und Partner mbB Landschaftsarchitekten

Unter den Eichen 4, D-30855 Langenhagen


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