Breathing new life into the neighbourhood

Breathing new life into the neighbourhood

Wichlinghausen is known as a deprived area. The newly designed area should inject new life into the district. The new design is part of the “Social City of Oberbarmen / Wichlinghausen” programme. Better paths, more sun and new play equipment should be a success.

 

Starting point

We spoke to landscape architect Mattis Ricken: “The area itself has actually had a play park for many years. This was last refurbished in the eighties. Before building work began on the Nordbahntrasse though, the play area was set in a dark corner; it was also heavily overgrown and not considered very safe. Because of its shady location and vandalism, the play equipment was in very poor condition. As a result, children very rarely played here.” The roots had destroyed parts of the paths and the foliage allowed very little light onto the play area. The wooden play equipment was most affected by this. It all had to be removed. Previously, a wooden tower with a long slide that led down the slope, was the focal point of the space. Right at the beginning of the planning phase, Mattis told Westdeutsche Zeitung: “There will be another tower and slide. The slope just lends itself to this.” The area also has an old piece of climbing equipment made by Berliner Seilfabrik, which has been given a new net as part of the developments. “The work on the Nordbahntrasse was the trigger for giving the play area a new chance again. But it was clear that a few changes would have to be made to the area for this to happen. Before building work began, all the shrub undergrowth was therefore cut back and a few trees removed to allow light into the area. Now the play area is bright and visible and has a much friendlier look.”

 

Location

With its position right on the Nordbahntrasse and as a large central playground, Giesenberg children’s play area has a special role to play in the district. The ‘Wichlinghauser Viaduct’ stands 15 metres from the bottom of the play area and goes right past it. It opens up a view of the playground that it has never been possible to see before.

As a cycle path, the Nordbahntrasse crosses Wuppertal on its east-west axis and serves as the link to national cycle paths leading into the Ruhr region and Bergisches Land. The Nordbahntrasse is used by families at the weekend to escape the busy traffic and enjoy walks and cycle rides. Now it’s really exciting for the little ones to be able to make a stop at Giesenberg play area.”

 

Renovation work

The play area was built between May and September 2015. An investment of EUR 350,000 was budgeted for the development. At this point, however, it was not possible to foresee the damage that had been caused by the overgrowth, which consequently resulted in greater costs. In the end, approximately EUR 450,000 was spent on the project. Eighty percent of the costs came from the federal and state governments. Work actually began back in February. The first step was to remove trees, bushes and shrubs. This is when the damage to the steps and walls first became apparent. The full extent of this was only visible after everything had been fully cut back. The roots of the trees had even blocked off the narrow footpath.

 

Special features

“The topographical location of the play area was very challenging in the planning phase. Because of its position on the slope, there were only a few flat areas available. The one large, level surface is now taken over by the playing field made from artificial turf. The large slope has a vertical distance of over 15 metres. This was to be used as an opportunity to install a special piece of play equipment. Initially there was already a wooden tower here with a slide that led down into the valley. But the new play equipment needed to offer more: interesting climbing options, stay value, an open net bridge with a possibility to look across the whole play area, and of course, the play equipment itself had to be a design feature. The new play equipment is a real hit and has been very well received by the children. Even at the official opening, well over thirty children were rushing about the equipment at the same time, wanting to climb and slide,” explains Mattis enthusiastically.

 

Outcome

A friendly, light and bright play landscape has been created. The slide tower was replaced by a play structure combo from Berliner Seilfabrik. “Mr Ricken chose the tree houses from our Greenville range. The two Triis towers are joined together by a long net bridge. A ladder leads up to the bridge. Those who prefer more of a challenge can choose to tackle the climbing net between the two posts instead,” explains Marcus Vellmanns, employee at Berliner Seilfabrik. “Originally, the old slide was going to be reused. Joining it to our new equipment wouldn’t have been a problem. Our colleagues from the technology department have individual solutions for every play area. Unfortunately, however, the TÜV did not approve this. The slide itself no longer complied with today’s standards,” says Marcus. 

All the paths had to be repaved. This also included the access to the Nordbahntrasse.

The steps had to be replaced. New slope and guard rails had to be fitted. Now, instead of connecting steps, there is a ramp way in place. This means the nearby cycle and footpaths are easily accessible to both pedestrians with buggies and to cyclists – without steps. The play area also received a new basket swing and spinning disk. The old playing field was replaced with an entirely new one in the same place. The old flooring was badly worn, which increased the risk of injury.

Landscape architect Mattis explains: “The play equipment is even visible from far away, inviting children to climb and speed down the slide into the valley. The children from the neighbouring school also really enjoy spending their break times in the play area again now.”

 

Photo: Berliner Seilfabrik

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