Würzburg: Colourful blurs of colour in the concrete grey of the surrounding high-rise buildings

by Sebastian Schneider, Kaiser + Juritza Landscape Architects and Engineers

Würzburg: Colourful blurs of colour in the concrete grey of the surrounding high-rise buildings

The 1970s playground in Römer Strasse was in dire need of renovation after almost 30 years and was no longer contemporary. A particular complication was that the playground was built on an underground car park which was now used and in need of renovation.
The non-usage of the underground car park is connected to the urban-planning development of the Heuchelhof H1 district. Planned in the 1970s, a housing development of high-rise buildings has now been developed here. However, in1980 the high-rise building construction was discontinued and fewer storeys were built. The surplus of underground car parks originated in the initial period when a higher number of flats were anticipated. Even at the beginning of the planning stage it was clear that it is not prudent to renovate an unused underground car park. This is where the idea came about to demolish the underground car park and to create entirely new frameworks for the design of the area of space.

Games and design concept

As a basic idea, an attractive urban space with a high quality of amenity value, atmosphere, communication and potential for exercise for everyone was to be created. It wasn’t just supposed to be about the development of a children’s playground, but the goal was to create a platform for an unusual range of exercise activities, the motion field. In the preliminary plans for the motion field, the city’s Social Services Department, the local schools, kindergartens/nurseries, the youth centre, associations/clubs, organisations and the healthcare services were included.
Climbing, balancing and bouncing are the focal point of the motion field. The planners were partly inspired by the play equipment of high-wire climbing gardens specifically designed for the motion field and the sports of bouldering and parkour. A characteristic of the motion field is that it can be used by all age groups. The climbing walls have different levels of difficulty and leave room for play interpretations. Loops inserted into the walls can be used as slack line attachments. The high ropes course specifically developed with the company Corocord also offers different levels of difficulty with drop heights of up to 3 metres. For the planning and compliance with the safety needs, Kaiser + Juritza was supported by the playground expert Fritz Blume (Deula Westfalen-Lippe GmbH).
With the design of the play areas, a rough hilly landscape was decided upon, which is drawn through by a meandering valley. The differences in altitude are supported in visual terms using changes in colour. The modelled landscape also offers an independent play value. The subsurface was constructed of an all-weather synthetic surface which, according to property requirements, is durable up to 3 metres. As a sculptural highlight, three climbing walls, consisting of shotcrete, are pushed out from the ground along the course of the river. Thanks to its curved shape, the hemisphere offers very different levels of difficulty and is connected to the long boulder wall by a slack line. The mushroom-shaped overhang is intended for experienced climbers and cannot be tackled until training is completed. With its holes and the rising narrow line, the curved cheese wall primarily presents a challenge for smaller children and forms a separate area. The basic themes are supported by other play equipment, such as a belt jumping band, pick-up sticks, balancing beams and planks, hop mushrooms, a semi-levered landing gear and hub. The lowered pitch is overtopped by two solar panels. The problem of vandalism played a decisive role in the choice of materials. Steel and concrete should, where possible, offer little contact surface. Furthermore, young people from the neighbouring area were acquired, and in future they will actively assist in the care of the motion field.
The former exterior walls of the underground car park were separated by a boulder wall of the playing field. Graffiti artist Dominik Hofmann offered planners support with the colourful design of the concrete walls. One of the sprayed concrete walls was designed in a workshop with young people.

Planning and construction

The simple basic idea to convert an existing underground car park into a generation-spanning motion field required extensive planning and coordination as it was about a linking structure between two large used garages. However, these were located directly underneath the individual slip roads to the building site, so this meant that only construction machinery and trucks could pass through. The modelling of the hilly landscape was mostly achieved using demolition waste which was broken up on site. The surface water of the motion field can drain away on the fall protection flooring, for safety there are still emergency overflows into the canal. The shotcrete walls, designed by the company Schmück, as well as the arrangement and placement of all foundations posed a particular challenge. Due to the partly low covering up to the base plate, all foundations have to be arranged exactly as per the model, and, in terms of height and position, are planned precisely in advance. The correct crossover of the fall areas also always has to be abided to. A 3D model and working model are being used as planning and implementation aids.

Initial reactions

On the opening day, 200 children stormed onto the motion field. The neighbouring residents particularly like the refreshing, colourful blurs of colour in the concrete grey of the surrounding high-rise buildings. In future, the motion field should also be used by neighbouring kindergartens, nurseries and schools to complement their standard sports lessons. In addition, health programmes of the Heuchelhof Neighbourhood Management Scheme should also take place there. With the motion field, a new sports focus has come into being in Heuchelhof.

 

Planning/construction time: 2009-2011
Redesigned spaces: approx. 2,800m²
Construction sum: 830,000 EUR
Builder: City of Würzburg, Department of Urban Planning + City Parks
Supported by the Federal-Land-Urban Development Promotion Programme II
“Urban Districts with Specific Development Needs – Social City” for the Heuchelhof H1 measure by the government of Lower Franconia
Planning and Construction Supervision: Kaiser + Juritza Landscape Architects and Engineers
Joachim Kaiser, Stefan Hofmann, Sebastian Schneider
Structural design: Mitnacht + Klüber beratende Ingenieure für Bauwesen (engineering consultants in civil engineering)
 

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