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18.02.2022 - Ausgabe: 1/2022

Modernisation of the schoolyard of the Johann Friedrich Mayer School

By Laura Vahl (Lavaland GmbH)

© Lavaland GmbH

With the renovation of the schoolyard, the educational institution with all-day care and its 500 students is setting an example. A role model for the future, because the school administration and the municipality started planning years ago - and have now realised the implementation of the project: "We are glad that now our school is equipped for the future at the highest level," says Headmaster Markus Autenrieth.

The students were involved in the planning in a participatory process. The school grounds are located on a steep slope; the school buildings, which have already been partially completed in a first construction phase, are located on a stone terrace. In addition to the open spaces directly adjacent to the new buildings on this platform, the existing open spaces consist of partially unusable and residual areas. The existing areas on a steep grassy slope and an ageing asphalt and gravel surface did not offer enough space and facilities for a sustainable school concept.

The guiding idea of the planning which has been implemented by the Berlin based office Treibhaus is the creation of differently programmed terraces that provide diverse play opportunities and movement sequences. By subdividing the terrain into different platforms, the usable space could be increased. In addition, the slopes between the platforms also provide activity offers which enable the visitors to overcome the different heights in a playful way.

The pupils will have a schoolyard that will enable them to choose their stay and location individually according to their personal and current emotional needs. Different zones will be created: both individual active and quiet areas. The concept of making school more of a place to live and feel good should also be reflected on the school campus.


The terraces

The "stone terrace" extends over a ramp which leads to the courtyard of the "small learning house". The area is broken up by linear planting areas, which are equipped with wooden seating platforms. Additional shrubs will provide shade on the stone terrace. 

The adjacent south-facing slope is divided into two large play terraces that are connected by a climbing ramp and a sledding slope. On the upper terrace an existing piece of play equipment has been integrated into the new concept Now it provides a place to rest on hammocks and a nest swing for the younger children. In addition to the stone terrace, a new sports area was designed as a multi-functional sports field. The multi-sports terrace consists of an EPDM surface with goals and a water-bound path surface as a boules field. The EPDM surface will be equipped with six goals, four compact goals and two soccer field goals, which are designed to be particularly noise-reducing. Thus a field for school sports is provided that can be used in many ways. In addition, there are two round trampolines, the EPDM surface was installed right next to the equipment. Furthermore, there is a basketball court and a ball fence consisting of three segments that are positioned at different angles to each other. Here, too, attention was paid to a noise-reducing design. 

Another main element - which connects the "stone terrace" with the multi-sports terrace - is the Mikado game. Intersecting logs encourage people to climb the slope again and overcome it in the end.


Edging of the terraces

The borders of the terraces are particularly impressive in terms of design. Towards the slope, there are concrete seating blocks designed in line with the topography. On the side facing the slope, the terrace is enclosed with larch glulam trusses on steel feet. Thus different seating areas are created while at the same time the structurally necessary edging can be integrated into the play process.


The play elements in the zoom

The Mikado game connects the terraces with each other. Larch logs seem to be scattered over the slope. The height can be overcome either by climbing the logs, which is difficult, or more easily by using the battens that run along the logs. Children are constantly challenged to find their individual best way. A net is stretched between the logs, allowing both climbing and hammock-like resting. The climbing facilities provide different degrees of difficulty. In accordance with the relevant standard, the access to platform heights of more than 60 cm free fall height was made particularly difficult for small children. In other places the platform height was kept below 60 cm free fall height in order to provide barrier-free play equipment. The entire construction is elevated, which ensures that the equipment is well ventilated and another play level is available underneath.

The climbing ramp is a piece of play equipment situated almost invisibly on the slope. The slope side consists of a climbing net that connects the two terraces. Then, the focus will change again. The space below the ramp is used in different ways. A supporting and climbing construction forms horizontal bars, gymnastics rings are suspended from the construction and a hand-over-hand ladder enables the children to descend. Motor skills are promoted in different ways and the highest point of the ramp challenges the children's limits and ensures that this equipment does not become boring either. The playground equipment was supplied by the company playparc, among others.

The slippery slope is not a slide, the element replicates the relief of the stainless-steel slope. The steel element is installed at ground level and was designed without any major thresholds. Whether on a kick scooter or on the seat of one’s trousers, it's fast-paced, with a rope in the middle which helps the user to climb up.

Group dancing and ball sports: the EPDM play surface is a multi-functional surface that is constantly being redefined among the children, a large stainless-steel sheet polished to a high shine provides mirror surface for every TikTok dance. Most of the play elements, including the climbing net with gymnastic rings and climbs, Mikado game, hammocks and mirror surface, were supplied by the manufacturer Playparc.



In sum, an open space was developed that can be used in many different ways, which offers different challenges and tries to provide the users with gender-neutral activities. At the same time, the terraces leave enough room for interpretation to realise everyone’s own form of play:

"The students get a schoolyard that allows them to choose their stay and the location individually according to their personal, current and emotional needs. Both active and quiet areas enable them to do so. School as a feel-good factor," says Headmaster Markus Autenrieth.

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