The family-friendly neighbourhood puts children centre stage

The family-friendly neighbourhood puts children centre stage

Striking a balance between work and family life is essential for the economic development of a region. The aim is to encourage young families to settle on a long-term basis and to attract new ones. Regions that fail to achieve a family-friendly environment are also at a long-term disadvantage economically.

But what is required for a good life with children?

As well as a child- and family-friendly infrastructure, better childcare facilities and more all-day schools, it is essential that family-friendly neighbourhoods also offer attractive, well-designed playgrounds. In particular in towns and suburbs where there are few opportunities for children to really let off steam there is a need for an appropriate number of playgrounds where they have a range of opportunities to play and experiment in a safe environment.


Accordingly, under § 8 Section 2 of the city's Building Code, the Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment requires the builder to install and maintain a playground as part of the construction of any building with more than six apartments. At least 4 sq. m. of usable play area per residential unit should be provided. The size of the play area should amount to at least 50 sq. m and it must be suitable for small children.


The ten-strong team at the Berliner Seilfabrik company's Creative Center, made up of architects, landscape planners, engineers and designers, works daily with customers from the residential construction sector, developing play and leisure facilities individually tailored to needs and budgets and producing planning documentation swiftly and efficiently. The Center is often involved with the development of playgrounds for new residential areas, upgrading existing playgrounds, designing free spaces for young people and, increasingly, the creation of play spaces for infants. Inclusion is always a key consideration when working on a playground, while the range of users, play intensity and noise issues are also intensively discussed. With regard to operation and maintenance, customers attach particular importance to the selection of top-quality, modular play equipment that complies with safety standards. Increasingly design and play functionality are combined.


Particular attention is also paid to maintenance intensity and costs in residential construction. Here experience has shown that opting for the cheapest supplier can swiftly turn out to be a costly mistake once play equipment has come into use. In the course of discussions with various housing societies and associations, several reported that a completely new approach was being taken in the planning of play areas. Until two years ago, for example, one housing association in Munich was exclusively sourcing play equipment from "low-price manufacturers". It quickly turned out, however, that this equipment failed to satisfy the needs of users and operators in terms either of play value or durability. After a year an employee was trained as a qualified playground inspector in accordance with DIN SPEC 79161, who reported numerous defects in the playgrounds in his area. The process of rebuilding and upgrading the first of these playgrounds is now underway with a view to improving life quality within the complex for residents and children.

Leading housing societies have recognised the value of investing in top-quality playgrounds. In the long term costs will be minimised because the lifespan of top-quality equipment is far longer than that of cheap equipment while the attractiveness of a family-friendly neighbourhood is shaped by its play and leisure offering.

Parents want to be able to sit back and relax while their children swing, run, climb and let off steam.

Landlords want satisfied, long-term tenants.

And children want to have fun!


Photo: Berliner Seilfabrik GmbH & Co

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