"We want to offer children something"

"We want to offer children something"

"Accommodation for every generation" - that's the slogan on the Wohnbauwerk im Berchtesgadener Land GmbH company's homepage. And it's a promise the company is currently living up to with regard to its youngest residents. In recent years around EUR 500,000 has been invested in playgrounds for housing complexes in the Berchtesgadener Land region. In partnership with the Ernst Maier Spielplatzgeräte GmbH, a total of 15 playground projects have been carried out in the last two years for complexes in the districts of Berchtesgaden, Bischofswiesen, Piding, Bayerisch Gmain and Schönau. Further projects in Bad Reichenhall are in the pipeline.

"Demographic change is also noticeable in our residential complexes," explains Florian Brunner, Managing Director of Wohnbauwerk im Berchtesgadener Land GmbH, a municipal housing association which has around 1200 of its own and 800 externally managed apartments in the Berchtesgadener Land region. Until a few years ago many of the residents of our residential complexes from the 1950s to the 1970s in particular were older people and there were few children. But in the last six to seven years the age structure has begun to change, with more and more young couples and families with small children moving into the popular apartments near the mountains, most of which have been modernised. The location of playgrounds was decided with the help of statistics on the number of children per residential complex. As part of an extensive upgrade of outside areas around a dozen playgrounds that had seen better days were then removed and replacements planned; the housing association's new properties already had playgrounds. The expert services of the Ernst Maier Spielplatzgeräte GmbH company from Altenmarkt a. d. Alz were enlisted, which was entrusted with the task of planning and fully equipping the playgrounds in the Alpine region.

"The brief was to completely equip the playgrounds as multi-generational meeting places," says Georg Bachmeier, Director of Sales and consultant at Ernst Maier Spielplatzgeräte GmbH. "Children were to be able to enjoy a natural play experience close to their homes. The customer was also keen to keep follow-up costs low and to keep maintenance simple." On Bachmaier's advice the housing association opted for play facilities with powder-coated metal uprights and oak - the most durable combination of materials. "The multiplay units in our B2 series combine elements with a balanced play value and movement offering," explains Georg Bachmeier. Accordingly, in Bischofswiesen a multi-tower facility was installed with platforms at different heights which allows children to test their capabilities by climbing up, down and across. "We also wanted to forge a link between the play facilities and the mountains," explains Florian Brunner. Climbing walls and numerous other opportunities for climbing were therefore provided in the playgrounds which, like the Bischofswiesen facility, have often been erected against an idyllic mountain backdrop. Slack Jack slacklines have also been installed on the playgrounds. "These are very popular with children at the moment," says Brunner. When planning and installing the housing association's playgrounds, Ernst Maier Spielplatzgeräte GmbH also included a wide range of other playground equipment for children of various ages. This naturally include sand pits, swings, springers with various motifs, slides, roundabouts and play houses to which children can retreat. To ensure the natural appearance of the playgrounds, large lawn areas were planned and laid and fine rounded gravel was used as fall protection – synthetic fall protection was not used at the request of the housing association.

"We want to offer the children something" says the managing director of the housing association. And the popularity of the housing complex playgrounds provided by Ernst Maier Spielplatzgeräte GmbH demonstrates that this goal has been achieved. "We're getting plenty of positive feedback from children and parents," says a pleased Brunner. "The old playgrounds were rather deserted, the new ones are heavily used and are very popular. We've even had thank-you letters from children."

The playgrounds on Wohnbauwerk im Berchtesgadener Land GmbH's housing complexes have become meeting places, says Director of Sales Georg Bachmeier. In his experience, playgrounds can help to alleviate isolation in housing complexes. Children, parents and grandparents come into contact, which is no longer limited to a quick "hello" in the corridor. This improves relations between residents.

This notion of a cross-generational meeting place was taken even further at a playground in Bischofswiesen: here an item of training equipment from Ernst Maier Spielplatzgeräte GmbH's outdoor fitness series was also installed along with a multiplay unit and several other pieces of apparatus. The double side swing & walker has stations for three users and offers, for example, parents and grandparents the chance to improve their health and fitness while children are playing. The walker strengthens the hip, buttock and upper thigh muscles and boosts the heart rate and circulation while the two side-swing units offer the opportunity to exercise the hip and the side trunk muscles. "Adults have the opportunity to exercise and entertain themselves while at the same time keeping an eye on their children playing a few metres away," explains Georg Bachmeier. "The outdoor fitness unit on the playground in Bischofswiesen is an experiment, we want to see what the reaction is to this kind of multi-generational playground," says Florian Brunner. "But I can well imagine installing such equipment on other housing complexes."

Wohnbauwerk im Berchtesgadener Land GmbH has spent around EUR 500,000 in total on new playgrounds for its residential complexes in recent years. Approximately 50% of this sum was spent on the planning and equipment of playgrounds by Ernst Maier Spielplatzgeräte GmbH. "Preparation of the land at the sites cost around another EUR 500,000," says Florian Brunner. Old equipment had to be taken down and disposed of and old foundations removed. Extensive site modelling had to be carried out for the new playgrounds, with measures including the provision of an adequate humus layer, which is required when lawns serve as fall protection. The outlay has certainly been worthwhile in terms of its impact on the attractiveness of the housing complexes, however. As a result, the housing association is planning further playground projects next year in Bad Reichenhall.   


Photo: Ernst Maier Spielplatzgeräte GmbH

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