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13.08.2021 - Ausgabe: 4/2021

Inclusive and barrier-free playing for both young and old

By Lothar Köppel (Köppel Landschaftsarchitekt)

© Lothar Köppel

The new design concept and implementation of this play area shows how the requirements of the new standard DIN 18034 for "playgrounds and public play areas" can be put into practice.

Already at the opening of the public play area, it was clearly visible that the design concept fully complied with the relevant terms of reference. The diverse nature-oriented offers and play facilities were enthusiastically received by all users throughout all generations, both with and without disabilities, and have already been very well visited so far. 

The idea came from the former district president Jürgen Reichert. "The District of Swabia stands for integration and inclusion, which are both very heartfelt matters to us," said District Administrator Martin Sailer in his opening speech. The Culture and European Affairs Committee of the District Council of Swabia had voted unanimously for a natural and inclusive playground in December 2018.

The project, which cost around 400,000 euros, was funded by the District of Augsburg, the Municipality of Gessertshausen, the Augsburg Recreation Area Association (EVA) and the Augsburg Westliche Wälder Nature Park Association. 

With innovative ideas, the use of adapters, the planning of interesting play sequences, including offers for nature play activities and the use of sustainable materials and equipment, new approaches for play and physical activities could be created in the sense of inclusion and accessibility, which makes conventional playground design more attractive and could furthermore also enrich all future play areas. 

Furthermore, all safety-relevant aspects were taken into account with the help of a risk assessment.

According to the planning specifications "Not everyone can do everything. Integration does not necessarily mean wheelchair-accessible", the task of redesigning the outdoor play area at the Swabian Folklore Museum at the Oberschönenfeld Monastery in the Western Forests Nature Park in Augsburg could be implemented to a large extent in full and is now even considered a role model.


Main tasks and aspects:

  • To provide the possibility to experience, learn about and experiment with nature and the landscape in a playful way.
  • The play area should be usable for all users according to their abilities and skills, regardless of whether they are old or young, big or small, people with or without impairments, disabilities or special abilities.
  • The barrier-free play and adventure landscape should enable everyone to use the facilities with and without assistance.
  • The existing resources should be integrated in different areas with both intensive and extensive utilisation structures.
  • To provide the users with places of well-being, physical activity, rest, retreat, meditation, synergy.
  • To consider the use of natural materials, the use of resources, the integration of landscape elements, woody plants and minerals.
  • The redesign of the existing playground into an inclusive, barrier-free play and adventure landscape which is suitable for EVERYONE. 
  • To promote the attractiveness of and networking with the facilities of the Folklore Museum and the Cistercian Abbey.
  • To consider the prioritization of safety, maintenance and service costs.
  • To consider sustainability.
  • To use the existing play facilities.
  • To take into account flood events.
  • To integrate the large tree population and the existing vegetation.
  • To consider the requirements and planning objectives of DIN 18034 when creating playgrounds and public play areas, such as:diversity, promotion of the senses and physical activity, fitness offerings, design and use of materials, creation of space, diversity of use, promotion and maintenance of social contacts, accessibility, two-way principle, two-senses principle, guidance systems and adapters, safety and maintenance, compliance with area sizes and accessibility, consideration of special play offers such as sand and mud areas, water play offers, play equipment, ball play and rolling surfaces, communication areas, nature experience areas, integration of landscape elements such as groves, water, soils, terrain structures, wind, etc.


Design contents

Visual relationships and interlocking path systems ensure functional networking with the museum and monastery areas and the Bräustüble with its beer garden.

Through barrier-free entrance areas with tactile guidance boards, barrier-free circular paths, with a continuous guidance system and visually and touch-detectable adapters (unique pieces), the variously designed play and use areas can be accessed according to the abilities and skills of the users.

The central movement meadow with areas to linger under fruit trees is grouped with different play and use areas with integrated guiding elements such as:

  • wheelchair-accessible floor adapters or gripping adapters in the two-senses principle,
  • a barrier-free, naturally developed playable stream with elementary water play facilities, play bays, shallow banks, sand and mud areas, seating and play terraces,
  • a climbing and slide hill naturally designed with the existing excavated material with climbing routes made of tree trunks, a willow-covered slope slide, a wide slide, integration of the existing play tunnel with luminous paint and a light mirror, observation desk with slides and a wind wheel, root ascents with stick sprouts,
  • a balancing movement course with an approx. 60-metre-long continuous play course and diverse play elements up to the single-seat area slope slide,
  • a seesaw area with corresponding seesaw elements such as seesaw bags, arched seesaws, standing seesaws,
  • communicative rest areas with barrier-free seating areas and tables,
  • a nature park house as a starting point for supervised nature experiences and mobile play activities,
  • a table tennis fitness area with barrier-free play tables,
  • a swing forest for barrier-free use, with various swing options assigned to each other, such as basket swings, parent-child combination seats, 3-person swing seats, seat boards and hammocks, 
  • natural and sustainable design elements such as floor modellings, flowering meadows, Benje's hedges made of rootstock sections, integration and preservation of existing trees and woody plants, extensive play paths.



The special ambience of the Oberschönenfeld Monastery with its beer garden and attractive Folklore Museum in Augsburg's Western Forests Nature Park has been supplemented by another regional attraction including a newly designed integrative, barrier-free play area. Accessibility is part of the integration. 

One of the play ideas was brought back from Egypt. Therefore mirrors are placed in front of a play tunnel so that the tube is brightly lit when the sun gets in the right position. This idea was brought to Oberschönenfeld. And here the tunnel was painted in a brightly shining colour. 

Furthermore, all visitors are themselves responsible for a clean coexistence. There are no rubbish bins. They must take their rubbish back home again. 

Due to the innovative, sustainable and creative ideas and by considering the diverse, inclusive and sustainable suggestions of the new playground norm DIN 18034, this project can be considered a role model and is thus trend-setting for a future playground generation for EVERYBODY.

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