"Fit for the future"

by Regine Lechner, Lechner Landschaftsarchitekten

"Fit for the future"

As one of Berlin's leading housing associations, Stadt und Land Wohnbauten-Gesellschaft mbH also owns a great deal of housing stock in the Berlin-Hellersdorf district. A feature of the housing estates here are the many prefabricated blocks built in the 1980s. These mostly 5- and 6-storey buildings are arranged in large apartment blocks with extensive green courtyards between them that the residents can use for leisure purposes right on their doorsteps. These green areas offer many options in particular for play offerings close to homes.

After Germany's reunification the buildings in Hellersdorf were renovated and large tracts of the residential environment developed at considerable expense. But almost twenty years later there is a need for replanning and refurbishment, in particular of outside areas, because facilities have become run down and no longer suit user requirements.

In this context, Stadt und Land Wohnbauten-Gesellschaft mbH is planning to make its playgrounds "fit for the future" over the coming years. The requirements of the replanning are diverse:

  • Inventory should be retained and the playgrounds redesigned at as low a cost and with as few interventions as possible.
  • The new play offerings should appeal to as many age groups as possible
  • The newly-developed play equipment should be as durable and easy to maintain as possible because upkeep funds are becoming ever tighter.
  • The newly developed play equipment should be vandal-resistant.

 

For four play areas in Berlin-Hellersdorf the Lechner Landschaftsarchitekten landscape architect practice was commissioned to provide modern equipment for various age groups. These areas are in Waldheimer Straße/Döbelner Straße/Leisniger Straße (courtyard 1), Suhler Straße/Alte Hellersdorfer Straße (courtyard 2), Gothaer Straße/Eisenacher Straße (courtyard 3) and Riesaer Straße/Döbelner Straße (courtyard 4).

 

Development of the overall module system

The architectural elements of the residential development, with colourful geometric details on stairways and balconies, provided the foundation for the development of the Hellersdorf module system.

Working closely together, the contractor and the specialist playground design firm Zimmer:Obst came up with the idea of developing overall play equipment modules that can be adapted to the respective individual situation of the courtyard. The connecting element are powder-coated steel pipes as a basic construction in a harmonious and fresh colour scheme in RAL Design tones such as lemon yellow, pastel turquoise, olive beige and salmon orange, which create associations with sun, sky, water and sand.

The addition of wooden beams, platforms, ropes, nets and stainless steel poles creates constantly new play situations and attractions. Different levels of difficulty arise depending on the arrangement of the elements, which means a wide variety of age groups are catered for.

 

Courtyard 1

In the largest of the three facilities a play hill with a battered and secluded knight's castle was the main feature. The play hill was retained and the castle replaced with an airy climbing grove of bright steel pipes. The existing long stainless steel slide was also incorporated into the play concept and forms a real highlight within the play facility ‒ from here a height difference of three metres is overcome.

The play facility encourages children to climb, hang, slide, balance and swing. On top of the play hill children can feel like they are on a play island in the middle of the city.

 

Courtyard 2

In the lavishly greened interior courtyard a new balancing and hanging area with lemon yellow steel uprights brightens the outer area. Balance beams and ropes link small square play platforms. The radiant orange of the colourful side areas of the wooden construction also warms up this play area in autumn and winter. A hammock is perfect for chilling and enjoying the tranquillity of the courtyard.

 

Courtyard 3

The smallest reconstruction project is in the third courtyard with a wonderful broad "blue" sky. Swinging together is always one of the most popular outside play activities. With the Hellersdorf module system it was decided to build a cable swing which can accommodate three to four children at the same time. Two balance beams for small children complete the offering of this playground.

 

Courtyard 4

In courtyard 4 the aim was to provide a top-quality and transparent offering for all generations. Raised hills were removed and a courtyard that over the years had become densely overgrown was transformed into a transparent grassy landscape with undulating lawns. Lemon yellow and turquoise steel supports with mounted wooden bulrushes blend into the undulating lawns, creating a play landscape for climbing, sliding, swinging and hanging. Supplementary reclining chairs, benches and multi-generation fitness equipment in the same colours encourage whole families to enjoy being outdoors.

 

Summary

With the Hellersdorf module system a system designed specifically for the housing blends into the existing inventory. Flexible, low-maintenance components offer constant new combinations and a wealth of creative design possibilities.

 

Contractor: Stadt und Land Wohnbauten-Gesellschaft mbH, Berlin

Planning: Lechner Landschaftsarchitekten, Berlin

Construction period: May - July 2014 and 2015

Opening: August 2015

Construction cost of play equipment: EUR 100,000 gross

Execution: Spielraumgestaltung Zimmer.Obst GmbH, Spreenhagen

 

Photo: © Lichtschwärmer - Christo Libuda

<< back