Not just for senior citizens: Design students create fitness equipment

Students of the Design Faculty of the Niederrhein University of Applied Science have designed outdoor fitness equipment, which is primarily intended for senior citizens, and have taken on the challenge of demographic change with their project.

Not just for senior citizens: Design students create fitness equipment

In mid-February 2013, the supervising Professor Boris Gorin and the students presented the project to local people. It is called “Hand in Hand” and is a joint project between the Niederrhein University of Applied Science in Krefeld/Faculty of Design and the advocate of senior citizens of the town of Würselen, Dieter Juschka. The starting point for the project was a meeting between the Kulturstiftung Würselen (cultural foundation), the town’s advocate of senior citizens and Prof. Boris Gorin regarding products which are intended to enrich the lives of older people and make them easier. Nine design students in their third semester, whose focus of study is product design, transformed the ideas into concrete objects.

Bringing together the needs of older people and the creative ideas of the young: specifically, it was a matter of developing and designing an active area with training equipment in public space. “The desire for movement equipment for our older fellow citizens in public spaces was the result of the discussion evening with an interested group of citizens, who met together in the Old Town hall in August 2012”, explains Achim Großmann, chairman of the cultural foundation. Under the supervision of Professor Boris Gorin of the Niederrhein University of Applied Science, the students designed corresponding movement equipment for the Lindenplatz location in Würselen. “A system lies behind the facilities. The construction system consists of circular and straight round pipes, as well as surfaces”, Gorin explains. The outcome is eleven different pieces of movement equipment for parks and squares, a number of items of training equipment for public spaces, which are planned to one day be installed on the Lindenplatz in Würselen. It is intended that the senior citizens will be able to develop stamina, strength and coordination on the equipment. Special requirements for other municipalities can be developed.

What’s special about the young designers’ fitness equipment: They have all been linked to create a single overall concept. There are two varieties of pipe of eight or four centimetres in diameter. The circular pipe elements each have a diameter of either 50, 100 or 150 centimetres. They are prefabricated as a quarter circle or semicircle. Additionally, there are half pipes, so that surfaces can be placed on them. Moreover, different special parts were developed for inserting other elements, so that components of the system can be linked and areas fastened to them for seating, or for floor and roof structures. “It is a question of combining design and suitability for everyday use,” says Gorin. For example, Lynn Gebauer has dreamt up a futuristic keep-fit device for the leg muscles. The development and design of generation-friendly signage of the public space was also one of the tasks. Evgenia Dück took on this challenge and has created pictograms showing, for example, the way to the toilet for the disabled or to a wheelchair-accessible lift, or warning the mobility impaired about obstacles.

“It is important to know that we have developed a cohesive facility specifically for Würselen, which in and of itself should have an especially aesthetic appearance and sculptural quality. The low-complexity design of the facilities (all the training equipment only employs the weight of those using it and is constructed very simply) allows for this. As a result, it does not look like a collection of individual devices, but like a large sculpture. After all, it will be installed in an urban space and should appear interesting even when it is not being used. At present, the Würselen town council is examining the possibilities of its realisation. All the rights, however, are held by the Niederrhein University of Applied Science,” is how Prof. Boris Gorin sums up the situation.

Experts from the Medical Centre were on board throughout the project, who investigated its feasibility, whether it was possible to turn the ideas into reality. “We all hope that it will prove possible to implement the proposals in a further project. For that, more partners have to be found, who will make funding possible,” Großmann explained at the first presentation. Senior citizens themselves attended the preview and concept presentation. The young designers’ ideas received a warm reception. “Such training equipment and signage are lacking and are a useful addition to the everyday life of citizens.”

More information: www.hs-niederrhein.de


 

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