Playful Diversity in Ravensberger Park

Dipl.-Ing. Nils Kortemeier (Kortemeier Brokmann Landschaftsarchitekten GmbH)

Playful Diversity in Ravensberger Park

A one-hectare green space in Bielefeld’s Ravensberger Park was redesigned as a part of the integrated urban development concept "Northern City Limits", a program that contributes to the sustainable improvement and stabilization of the surrounding quarter.

Ravensberger Park surrounds the historic Ravensberger Spinning Mill in the direct vicinity of the Kesselbrink, which was also redesigned recently. The park offers many options for leisure and activity, but is also used as a transit space for pedestrians and cyclists. The planned area lies to the west, bordering the Wiesenbad swimming bath in the centre of the parking facility between Bleichstraße and Werner-Block-Straße. The area is also a hub for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Once intersected by paved paths and beaten trails, the existing leisure and play areas did not meet the needs of today's user groups. The fenced-in playground and the scattered play equipment hardly saw any use. However, the surrounding green space is ideal, given its connection to the historical structure and a healthy, mixed population of old trees. These characteristics have had an enormous influence on the planning.

Goal

The goal of the plan was to restructure the green space functionally and aesthetically. Along with the redesign of the paths, an interesting, diverse play and leisure area is to be added, which will lend the location a unique identity. In order to appeal to as many users as possible, options for various age groups were developed: safe, age-appropriate play areas for the youngest users and more challenging elements for youth and adults. The main elements of the play equipment were developed in collaboration with playground equipment manufacturer Berliner Seilfabrik. The equipment consists of high-quality balance, climbing and sports elements, divided among three sections in the play area.

Design

The design of the play area represents a thematic reference to the Ravensberger Spinning Mill and thus the roots of the textile industry in Bielefeld. The rope and climbing elements "weave" together. The steel parkour posts stick out of abstracted, over-sized cotton reels, which are used for various play options.

"Here at Berliner Spielgerätehersteller, we adapt to the individual desires of our clients. Our play equipment creates vital spaces for living and learning. As a result, we are particularly happy when, above and beyond the design of a play space with many play options, there is a sense of identification with the city and region for children and youth. In this concrete instance, the challenge was to translate thematically the proximity to the Ravensberger Spinning Mill. As a cable factory, we found the theme particularly exciting and created fun climbing and balancing equipment based on over-sized cotton reels. They provide the kids with playful references to the history without losing the play value. Together with the team from Kortemeier Brokmann Landscape Architecture, we have created an exciting new facility here in Bielefeld," says David Köhler (Berliner Seilfabrik GmbH & Co.).

The main element of the redesign in the park is a swinging, rising and falling wave, which runs from the Spinning Mill to the north of the park. The wave covers an area of approximately 80 x 15 metres and links spatially the options for play and sport as well as relaxation and social interaction. Like a huge, curved cloth, it covers and connects the new and existing structures. The wave snuggles harmonically around the population of old trees and its widespread terrain modelling brings new optical and playful qualities. The northern play area, with play options aimed at children, has a smaller hill and the southern play areas larger hills. The restructuring of the green space creates a practical trail system and a balanced connection to the generous lawn and the functional sports, play and relaxation area, without excess divisions.

The basic structure of the wave is divided into three strips. The inner area, about eight meters wide, represents the "active centre". Three large play areas with customized equipment are surrounded spatially by three hills. These hills invite guests to romp or lie down and relax and are equipped with colourful synthetic fall protection. Concrete-stone surfaces two metres in width border the wave on either side. A number of benches are arranged on these "relaxation strips", so that adults can watch their children play, for example, or people can take a break from sports activities.

The activity areas contain various sports and play options. The most northerly area has a protected feel, due to the existing field maples. This reduces any possible complications for older users. The ground is equipped with sand, and is particularly attractive to younger users who want to dig and build. A "cotton reel" in this area services as a "baking table". A slide accessible by way of a climbing net rounds out the options.
Divided by two hills with fall protection, two other areas consisting of pea gravel are located to the south of the sand area. This material is best suited as a fall-protection surface for the climbing elements there, which children as well as youth and adults can make use of. In the middle area, a balance and hanging combination leads to a large, polygonal net that can be climbed from the inside or outside. A guide rope has been added for support. At the same time, the net functions as a hanging mat nearly 20 m² in size in which park visitors can relax and leave their cares behind.

The bordering hill, with a total height of about 1.20 meters, leads to the southern play section, over which a large oak presides, offering some shade at midday. The ground is covered with pea gravel here, as well. Two steel posts, one meter in height, form the basis of a challenging climbing circuit, about 23 meters long in total. The balancing cables are accessible by means of the above-mentioned cotton reels from which the steel posts protrude. The climbing height runs between 70 – 100 centimetres. Adults and children alike can reach the guide cable. The last hill with fall protection also reaches a height of 1.20 meters and runs up to the central path hub in a generous remodelling of the grassy area. The path network, with its natural stone paving, connects and makes reference to the existing structures.

Other sporty options are present on the bordering, curved pavement surface of concrete stones. Two all-weather table tennis tables are located here. Behind this, the park opens up to a large lawn area of landscaping grass. The area invites visitors to take in some sun, linger a while or do their own thing.
The redesign of this section of the Ravensberger Park represents a harmonic restructuring of the area. Its openness and the new, functional recreation options are interesting for various user groups. The installations are organized clearly in the "wave" area; the fresh shaping of which integrates dynamically into the park. A reduction in the trail system enables more "usable green space", but covers all the critical daily connections.

The Bottom Line for the City

"The local, urban development concept for the city restructuring area "Northern City Limits" defines, among other things, the creation of a qualitatively high-value green and open space system, one that is connected to the quarter, and has attractive and secure bicycle and pedestrian paths as well as leisure areas for children and young people, as a development goal for the public space.
Originally, there was a fenced-in playground for children and some scattered play equipment in the public green space in Ravensberger Park (west of the Wiesenbad). Multiple pedestrian and cycling paths cut through the existing green space and dissected it. Users did not take advantage of the original course of the paths; as a result, a beaten trail appeared. Consequently, no clear conception of the original paths was recognizable in the location. The play areas did not meet the current needs of the children. In addition, the options for play (football field) were restricted to a new residential development on the bordering space. In order to deal with these deficits in the green space, the play area and the existing paths were reviewed and redesigned in the context of the restructuring of the space.

What is relevant in the new design? After the redesign, a wide "park ribbon" curves around the eastern edge of the now open, generous green space. The functions for play, leisure and exercise were arranged on this ribbon and reorganized. The ribbon forms a thematic reference to the Ravensberger Spinning Mill. It runs through the area like a "textile ribbon". Smaller hills in the children's play area create a new and fun play experience. The playground contains thematically appropriate, location-based play equipment.
In collaboration with the neighbouring Ravensberger Spinning Mill, there are cotton reels that invite users to climb, balance, hide and engage in many other sorts of play. In this way, there is a unique identity connected to the history of the location and the Ravensberger Spinning Mill. The tree population in the greenway were maintained as much as possible and have been expanded in some sections by large trees, among other things," says Michael Koch (Environmental Council of the City of Bielefeld / Public Relations and Marketing)


Photos: Kortemeier Brokmann Landschaftsarchitekten
 

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