Space flight meets urban green area

By Johannes Zell (Graduate Engineer, landscape design and architecture / Förder Landschaftsarchitekten GmbH, Limited Company)

Space flight meets urban green area

The redevelopment of the Parc Kaltreis in Luxembourg has been implemented in close collaboration with its users and the local residents. Their needs and wishes were included in the respective design planning. The central elements of the redevelopment were, inter alia, new trails as well as play and resting areas suitable for all age groups.

Away from the dreary playground with sand boxes and standard play equipment towards an educationally valuable thematic playground with great fun factor and high play and entertainment value. This is the aim Luxembourg has pursued in recent years when modernising and redesigning its play areas. At each of the new thematic playgrounds both parents and children can dive into different fantasy worlds. However, at the pirate boat playground in the city centre, at the farmyard playground in the district Gasperich, at the airport playground in Cents as well as at the knight's castle playground in Belair the visitors can already replay and experience the respective stories. Last June, another attraction, the space and planetary themed playground, was opened in the district of Bonnevoie-Sud. This playground was built in the course of extensive restructuring measures of Parc Kaltreis. The green park area of approximately 3 hectares was built in the 1980s and has since then been an important element of Luxembourg's open spaces. The park offers both different elements of landscapes, such as ponds, wide meadows and winding trails and also urban elements such as playgrounds, beach volleyball, basketball and multi-purpose sports fields.

 

The causes for redevelopment and new design concepts

The main causes for the redevelopment of the park were the technical deficiencies and visual faults at the man-made ponds which finally led to the complete renewal. The City of Luxembourg took this opportunity to initiate a participatory process to find out how satisfied the visitors and users were with the park and if they had any suggestions for improvement. Therefore, the citizens were invited to express their opinions, wishes and ideas which should thus be included in the further planning process.

Through this citizen involvement it soon became apparent that the park did neither comply with former nor future user demands. However, there were many needs which could not be covered by the existing equipment. Therefore, the City of Luxembourg decided to implement an extensive redevelopment of several park areas. The wishes expressed by the users included, inter alia, a space and planetary themed playground, a street workout park, seating and resting areas in the shadow and a fountain. However, this participatory process proved very popular. For instance, a neighbour reported that she had attended a very interesting planning event and appreciated to have been asked for her views. In total, approximately 40 persons of different age groups participated in the corresponding workshops. However, the company Förder Landschaftsarchitekten has created a new design concept and a new park programme by taking into account the results of the participatory process and the requirements of the City of Luxembourg. The existing urban and landscape elements should be fostered through targeted interventions and selective additions which should be put into a new and modern setting. At the same time, the technical and visual deficiencies should be repaired.

However, the heart of the park is the new urban centre with its park entrance, play, sports and resting areas. Both the East and West sides are surrounded by beautiful landscape areas. The three park areas are connected through the new main trail which passes through the entire park from east to west. The formerly rather unremarkable park entrance has been extended and converted into a main entrance area which is also visible from a great distance. This new and generously sized area leads straight to the Piazza with its water features and makes the park visitors feel welcome right after arriving whereas, at the same time, it provides orientation. It is here, too, where all infrastructural facilities can be found, such as the public toilets, drinking water dispensers and a designated parking area for food trucks.

 

Planetary themed playground and water games

However, the main attraction for children is the new thematic playground which focuses on space and space flight. The nine thematic play elements have been installed all over the two oval play islands, of which one is filled up with sand, the other with pea gravel. The majority of the play facilities are custom-made products, especially designed and manufactured for Parc Kaltreis. Hence, the playground provides both a variety of experience options and places to rest so that the different needs of the children can be fulfilled.

Rising up to a height of 7.80 metres, the rocket sliding tower called „Apollo 11“can already be seen from a distance with its red and white chequered perforated plate covering.

It is definitely the most eye-catching feature of the entire play area. The tower is subdivided into three different levels with three different slides. On the first level there is a wide slide for smaller children, on the second level we have the combined tubular-box slide and last but not least, on the third level, the tubular slide. As soon as the children get into it, they get the impression to start an adventurous space travel. The different blue and red sight and light spots which have been integrated in the slide should symbolise the planetary system. The three levels are connected by ladders, ropes and climbing nets. While the first level can still be reached without much effort, the difficulty level increases from level to level. On the second level a telescope offers a fantastic view all over the park and the landscape scenery. Within the tower itself the children can communicate with each other through tubular telephones. Next to the “Apollo 11”, one can find the space capsule called „Lunar Roving Vehicle“ serving as both a place to rest or hide for children and as an observation desk from which the rocket could be started by using the “rocket control panel”. This desk, however, can be reached by climbing up a ladder or the small climbing wall.

Furthermore, a sand building site reproduces "The Saturn's Mine" which due to its form recreates the rings of the planet Saturn. The building site is composed of three different stations with sieves, tables, funnels and cranes to transport and process sand. Within the "Saturn's Mine", the children discover a colourful planetary system when they look up into the sky.

In addition, the three play elements are supplemented by the "Skywalk", a cable railway, the "Skyview", several swings suitable for all ages and levels and "The Moon", a rotary disk.

The space and planetary themed playground provides both an extensive variety of experience options and places to rest to fulfil the children's needs.

Nevertheless, on hot summer days, the new popular playground must compete with the water games offered on the Piazza. Its hilly design from modelled in-situ concrete with its anthracite mortar coating evokes associations with a planetary surface. 20 fogging and nine water nozzles as well as two water cannons provide a lot of fun among the young park visitors. The fogging and water nozzles can be turned on separately by sensor buttons and the water cannons have a freely rotatable suspension. This is how the children can actively influence what is happening around them. In order to save drinking water, the water games function as a closed water circuit. The waste water is collected by an underground cistern, cleaned in a filtering plant and finally led back. During the cold months, when the water features and fountains are turned off, the facility still serves as an obstacle course for skaters and bikers due to its special design. 

 

Sports and resting areas

The existing sports offer (courts for beach volleyball, basketball and multi-purpose sports) is extended by a boules field and several ping-pong tables. Regardless of whether in the morning, at noon or in the evening, the street workout park enables its visitors to exercise all day long and thus represents an alternative solution to fitness centres. In addition to the suspension trainer, exercise cycle, and cross-trainer, seven further training devices for strengthening all parts of the body are provided. When the devices were selected, particular attention was given to ensuring that they could be used by all sports enthusiasts, regardless of age or fitness level.

The range of play and sports options is completed by attractive lounge and resting areas. Under the sun sail, for instance, there are tables and benches inviting the visitors to have a rest or enjoy a picnic. In the shade of the trees, it is also possible to train one’s mental fitness by playing chess at the chess tables. Furthermore, the benches are positioned in such a way that parents can observe their children while they are playing. The highlight, however, is the new step plates trail which is connected with the other existing trails and finally leads to the panorama desk with an exceptional view over the surrounding landscapes and the refurbished pond area. In addition, the park is equipped with a public wireless network which provides optimal conditions to work outside when the weather is nice.

In sum, since its reopening, Parc Kaltreis with its new thematic playground is both a popular meeting place for the citizens of the district Bonnevoie-Sud and a very popular day-trip destination for the population of the entire urban area and surrounding regions. The space and planetary themed playground with its great fun factor and high entertainment value perfectly complements the existing portfolio of thematic playgrounds of the City of Luxembourg. However, it was the citizens who have made an important contribution by presenting their ideas and wishes.

 

For further information please contact:

Förder Landschaftsarchitekten GmbH

Folkwangstraße 1, 45128 Essen, Germany

www.foerder-landschaftsarchitekten.de

 

Photo: Förder Landschaftsarchitekten GmbH

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