Three-storey climbing tower in the shopping mall-based Famplayland

Three-storey climbing tower in the shopping mall-based Famplayland

A gigantic shopping mall named Central Festival EastVille opened in eastern Bangkok in late 2015. The intention of the operators was to put in place a shopping centre providing attractions that go beyond the standard commercial options. The slogan here is 'Bangkok Escape' - a venue where the stress- and traffic-plagued residents of the city can find peace and relaxation. In addition the shopping mall, constructed at a cost of 6,000,000 Baht, accommodates 200 retail outlets and boutiques with 100 restaurants and has developed into a veritable tourist attraction. Installed in summer last year were a jogging track on the roof of the building and an indoor recreational centre for children that extends across several storeys. In this area designated 'Famplayland', the children can broaden their physical, mental and social skills in a secure environment with the help of ten activity stations.

The highlight in more ways than one is a climbing tower that rises to nearly 9 metres in height and incorporates an internal 118 m3 spatial net. The tower extends across all three storeys of Famplayland and consists of six modules placed one on top of the other. In order to provide for the necessary safety, the outside of the tower is covered by a plastic net. A tunnel slide with a drop height of some 8 metres starts from the uppermost level, providing for an exciting ride back down to the ground.

What the client required was a piece of play equipment that ideally suited the play space in which it was to be installed. In view of the relatively small floor space available coupled with 10.5 metres of headroom, the idea of a spatial net structure came to mind. "The main source of inspiration was the spatial network structure that had been installed by Berliner Seilfabrik in the Swarovski HQ that also ascends for several storeys," recalls Eukrit Kraikosol, Head of Operations Park and Garden and co-operator of Famplayland.

"But, in contrast with the situation at Swarovski, there were no sites where mountings could be fixed in the shopping mall," explains Marius Kotte, architect at Berliner Seilfabrik and Head of Construction and Development. "We solved the problem by anchoring the 8.5 metre steel posts that form the external framework for the tower in the floor. It was then possible to attach the tensioning elements to the posts outside the framework. The upper elements have been positioned with the help of suspension cables," adds Marius Kotte. The climbing tower in Famplayland is now the tallest free-standing indoor spatial net structure.

Construction of such features in enclosed spaces means there is very little flexibility when it comes to dimensional deviations. "We had hardly any leeway when assembling the various elements as the extent of variation that we had with regard to the spatial net structure was extremely limited. Even the range of tolerance that our suppliers had assumed was acceptable in the case of the 8.5 metre posts gave us headaches."

Moreover, the climbing tower was to have a light and airy appearance. This would increase the sense of height for children climbing the tower while observers on the ground would also be entertained watching the children. This transparency of design was promoted by the selection of appropriate materials and colours. Used in addition to the steel posts and rings were only various cable connections; this has also been successfully realised and makes the climbing experience into something unique.

While providing for optimal use of the existing space, the design of the climbing tower ideally matches the concept used for the recreational zone in Central Festival EastVille. The climbing in this three-dimensional structure both tests and stimulates children. It helps them develop psychomotor skills and their 3D spatial awareness. Cables are the ideal play partners for children as they react to their movements. Every tread and grip sets the cables in motion.

Development of motor and psychomotor abilities at an early stage is an important factor for well-being in subsequent life. Toddlers and young children need to be encouraged to augment their capacities in this respect. At the same time, the net structure also provides for an activity that children love - they like nothing better than being able to climb high up and enjoy the sights and the view. It's as pleasant as being held up in the air by dad and at last you can be taller than your older brother or sister.

"The tower provides children with an appropriate challenge and gives them a feeling of having achieved something when they reach the top of the tower. The slide is then the ideal reward for all the climbing effort," summarises Eukrit Kraikosol.

In the addition to the tower, there are other attractions for the little ones in Famplayland. There are a suspended bridge, several trampolines, a bouncy air cushion, large blue building blocks and an interaction play display installed in the floor. For the very youngest visitors there is a tiny play grotto with padded play area. There is a small restaurant in the immediate vicinity. Parents can sit here and watch as their children climb and play.

 

Photo: Berliner Seilfabrik GmbH & Co. 
 

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