Playground above the rooftops of Hamburg

By Freddy Müller, Kletterparadies GmbH

Playground above the rooftops of Hamburg

Adults and children in the Fröbel nursery "Im Wandsbeker Quarree" were delighted with the finished rooftop playground: Space to play, run riot, climb, balance and discover. Plane-spotting or looking at the shapes of the clouds is just as much fun for children – like spending the morning break in the open air.

In 2012, the new construction of the Fröbel nursery “Im Wandsbek Quarree” in Hamburg began. Wandsbek is a suburb of Hamburg with over 33,000 inhabitants on an area of 6 km². Due to the lack of open spaces, a solution was sought enabling the nursery’s children to be able to play in the fresh air despite the adverse conditions. The idea to create a playground on the roof of the adjacent multi-storey car park was established. The multi-storey car park rooftop offered an area of about 400 m² and is the perfect opportunity to create a children’s paradise with a tight area of space.  

Initially there were thoughts of creating a play landscape in the shape of a castle complex. Based on this proposal, the nursery approached the company Kletterparadies GmbH in Dresden, which started off with the pre-planning of a castle landscape. A play and climbing landscape came about, whereby the guardrails reflected the shape of a castle. With the presentation of the first sketches, it was established that this idea didn’t suit the part of the town. It was decided to design the playground based on the model of Hamburg and Wandsbek, however with a reference to nature in the vicinity. 

Bastian Scheithauer, the planner and designer responsible at Kletterparadies, began redesigning the play landscape as a result of this decision. This led to a new design based on the famous ‘Speicherstadt’ warehouse district in Hamburg with many related topics and components. “Each of these areas received its own play values with reference also made to Fröbel’s pedagogy. Also, the exterior town’s skyline was equipped with different play value elements in order to promote motor and sensory skills, fantasy, conditioning/fitness, coordination and role play. The whole site was drawn three-dimensionally by computer in order to present these subsequently in a concept presentation to Fröbel e.V.,” said Bastian Scheithauer.

The educationalist, Friedrich Fröbel, wanted to shape people “who [are] free and thoughtful” and defended the view that development cannot be enforced from the outside, but is positively influenced by free play. Children should learn in a playful way. Thus, for instance, Bastian Scheithauer created a “pinball machine” on which children can build for themselves a parkour obstacle course for the downwards-rolling balls, a water cart standing seesaw to test out balancing skills and a mobile ball track. This ball track is a free-moving games table at which several children, all at the same time, must transport a ball through a self-created labyrinth. Using such refined play equipment means that children are able to use and train their own skills in a playful way. 

In order to give children the chance to experience adventures, there is, among other things, a play ship situated in the harbour. There is an active obstacle course with two play towers with natural Robinia-like optics, offering children enough opportunities to put their motor skills to the test. Different climbing platforms, a spiral chute and balancing elements are installed here.
In order to allow tots to become active, there are separate toddler areas scattered throughout the grounds. Thus, for instance, a crawl labyrinth made from freight crates, a spring-loaded sea snake seesaw, a market stall and a horse and cart, which, in the meantime, can also be found in the standard product range with Kletterparadies GmbH.
A seating area has been installed inside the Hanse Castle, offering educational staff the chance to hold a morning circle outside and to do arts and crafts and to play at a table, with two different heights for children and adults.  

Furthermore, drama is also included in this line-up. The theatre stage allows children to be completely in the limelight.   

To top it all off, the fall protection for the play landscape has been laid out in colour on top of the concrete of the car park roof. The fall protection is designed in such a way that the multi-storey car park roof is now adorned with a depiction of the Wandse River flowing through Wandbek. “Sandy beaches” and “Islands” were also depicted. Coloured fall protection made from EPDM (ethylene propylene diene rubber) was used, as well as artificial turf, to create the effect.   

The team from Kletterparadies GmbH is proud of this project and they have reason to be. A lovely, all-encompassing rooftop playground, which has yet to be matched, has been created. The playground concept was tasked with ensuring the whole area could be used by all age groups, without creating separate, isolated areas. Barriers had to be implemented in the play equipment, which would deter toddlers, but, however, which wouldn’t deter older children from playing. It was a challenge for Kletterparadies GmbH to develop equipment with so-called “toddler filters” with regard to complying with the DIN Standard for playgrounds.

There were also challenges when planning the construction process, because the concrete of the multi-storey car park could not be damaged, because otherwise the water-resistance of the roof would no longer be guaranteed. So an unconventional solution had to be sought in order to ensure the stability of the structures. The implemented and securely-standing elements prove that this was a success. Another difficulty was in getting the materials and partially-completed elements onto the roof. For this purpose, a large heavy-duty crane was required. It was constructed following extensive authorisation and upon consultation with a marketplace operator in front of the multi-storey car park at the weekly market. It had an arm construction of 45 meters and the necessary range to reach the multi-storey car park.

“All in all,” said Bastian Scheithauer, “it was an exciting project. It was fun to work with the Fröbel pedagogy, to plan and develop new equipment as well as master the challenges which the project brought with it.” He also explained that it would have been impossible to realise this project without this team of workers. Due to the height of the rooftop playground and the above-mentioned special features in the construction process, it was all new territory for the Dresden-based company.  


Photo: Kletterparadies GmbH

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