Stuttgart: Lauchäcker "Into the Garden" Playground

by Wolfgang Ziegler, Regional Capital Stuttgart, Parks, Cemeteries und Forestry Office

Stuttgart: Lauchäcker

As the result of an Urban Construction Competition an existing green area, consisting of private green spaces which had been allowed to run wild, has been acquired between the existing Lauchhau constructible zone from the 60's (approx. 1,000 inhabitants) and the Lauchäcker housing estate (approx. 2,000 inhabitants) on the southern edge of Stuttgart. This area today links the two different residential areas and is a meeting place for residents of both areas, where their children play together. The development plan, which evolved from the “Green City" Urban Construction Competition, sets out areas "for the conservation of nature and the landscape" as a counter-balance for the loss of areas for construction in the planning area. The previous natural, extensive development area consisted of former neglected gardens, allotments and traditional orchards. Adjoining the playing areas run traffic-free paths, which form a continuous green corridor, together with the gardens and open spaces of the adjoining residential estates. It is therefore a safe place to play and is reached along safe paths. A path bordered by a stretch of water in the green corridor along the drainage channel whose banks follow the line of the path provides the links to the older Lauchbau residential area and the northern parts of the housing estate. Three children's day care centres and a nursery use the areas in addition to the grounds of their own establishments.

Playground design

In the year 2005 to 2006 the City of Stuttgart invested some 300,000 EUR for the design of the 5,100 m² site in a green corridor of approx. two hectares. The character of the former orchard landscape was chosen as the basis for the design of the play area, which has been planned in a natural style. This also meets the requirements described above of the development plan. The spacious character typical of traditional orchards was retained or reproduced. To provide access to the previously partially inaccessible area a path with a water bound surface has been developed to blend with the landscape. Plants which are not native to orchards, trees which have seeded themselves from elsewhere, unstable, dangerous trees, non-native bushes planted when the area was gardens and scrub which has begun to encroach were cleared out and fruit trees worth retaining were regenerated. Part of the procedure involved planting fruit trees in free spaces and sowing meadow grasses on bare, cleared areas. In addition in the green corridor and the play areas roof run-off water from buildings with green roofing was collected in a ditch designed to look natural. The play areas which needed open space have been inserted in the tree-free meadow areas.
It is recommended that children and young people should be able to be creative and play with natural materials and basic elements: Sand, areas covered with loose round pebbles, filled out with rounded small boulders, loosely scattered, broken gravel and edged quarry stones, round logs and square joists, logs and finely chaffed wood chips offer opportunities for play without pre-determined play functions unlike traditional playground equipment. In addition bits of wood or stone left over from constructing the equipment and the paths were left on the ground, in order to promote unplanned, creative play. This play area is organised around a play house, which awakens an association with the history of the place with the summer houses in the gardens that used to be there. Around the play house the paths were covered with a variety of used materials. Tiles, flagstones in various types of stone and shape were used to create a colourful imaginative surface, suitable for a place where children play.

The Citizens' Forum, an initiative in the residential area, helped to build a tree house. Some of the rainwater from the roofs of the adjoining buildings was led into a surface ditch system in the green corridor. This system of ditches has been developed into a water and mud play facility and offers additional opportunities for experiencing the elements in creative play. The ditch itself has banks of different slopes and can be used for hide-and-seek or for "roaming" through the area.

Adjoining this play area for experiencing the elements a few rather unobtrusive items of play equipment have been integrated, which respond to the children's basic need to be able to move about, while also respecting the tree and meadow areas in keeping with the terms stipulated in the development plan. In the spaces in the rows of trees a climbing and experience landscape with the theme of "Nature" has been installed: An eagle's nest, a climbing wood, a spider's web and a beavers' dam provide the link with nature. There are swings in between the trees.
The theme of the former summer houses is taken up in the form of two play houses. In keeping with the character of the place and as a reference to its history the play houses are partitioned into separate spaces by linear plant structures typical of the traditional allotments with rows of raspberries and blackberries and trimmed hedges.
Along the access road individual seating areas are provided. On the access paths to the residential area and from the field path wooden sculptures designed for being climbed and sat on and shaped like apples or pears give a flavour of the ambience of the play areas and the green corridor which continues through them.
A Tree Nature Trail in the green corridor bordering the area with information and texts specially designed for children and young people explain the topics of trees, the natural world and traditional orchards.
In the course of maintenance the playground, which has been approved by TÜV (Technical Inspection Association) is regularly inspected, and checked and the results logged pursuant to the legal requirements for its safety.

Summary

Wolfgang Ziegler, Parks, Cemeteries und Forestry Office in Stuttgart, on the general playground situation in Stuttgart:
"Naturally we must make savings, which as Swabians we do not find difficult. By analysis of the stock, public assessment of playgrounds, by prioritising the necessary cleaning and by implementing planned procedures both the political committees and the citizens can be made to understand that it is not possible to do everything at once, but that programmes for the replacement, planning and renovation of playgrounds can be implemented at a justifiable pace in good time. If there are safety reasons, then individual items of play equipment must be removed and there are within the City limits several playgrounds which are to be fundamentally renovated. Last year in particular we were able to make a definite improvement in the situation, a process which will continue this year of 2011. The planned new investment in playgrounds in housing estates generally poses no financial difficulties, since it is an aim of the Regional Capital Stuttgart to be a children-friendly city and this aim is assessed and money is spent and can be spent accordingly."

 

 


Dates and data:
Start of construction: October 2005
End of construction: June 2006
Inauguration 24 June 2006
Investment costs: 300,000.00 EUR
Size of playground: approx. 5,100 m²
Provision of the landscaping: Stier GmbH, Stuttgart
Provision of play equipment KuKuK GmbH, Stuttgart
 

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