12. June 2019

Play­ground for a Hous­ing Asso­ci­a­tion

With its own hous­ing stock of around 60,000 apart­ments, the Berlin-based hous­ing asso­ci­a­tion HOWOGE is one of the ten largest land­lords in Ger­many. For more than 25 years, the com­pa­ny has stood for sus­tain­able inven­to­ry devel­op­ment, inno­v­a­tive hous­ing con­cepts, and social engage­ment at var­i­ous loca­tions in Berlin. In the course of the peri­od­ic repair of the façade of a block of flats with 422 apart­ments in Berlin’s Hohen­schön­hausen dis­trict, the out­door area was also redesigned. A var­ied children’s play­ground was cre­at­ed in the court­yard of the build­ing com­plex. Due to the pub­lic acces­si­bil­i­ty of the farm, the play area not only ben­e­fits the imme­di­ate res­i­dents but also offers the entire liv­ing envi­ron­ment – includ­ing adjoin­ing day­care cen­ters – an excit­ing des­ti­na­tion for play and move­ment.

“It was impor­tant to me to have a play­ground that caters to the needs of all ages,” said Oliv­er Pohlann, Land­scape Archi­tect in charge and Project Man­ag­er of Land­scap­ing at HOWOGE. “Both the very young chil­dren and the old­er ones in ado­les­cence should get their money’s worth.” 

Con­se­quent­ly, the play­ground con­sists of play equip­ment with dif­fer­ent require­ments. At the heart of the tod­dler area is the Roo M.03 play­house of the Spooky Rook­ies series, which is specif­i­cal­ly geared to the needs of tod­dlers under the age of 3 for ear­ly psy­chomo­tor and social devel­op­ment. For exam­ple, the mud tables in the low­er part of the play­house invite you to role-play, which pro­motes lan­guage and social skills in a play­ful way. An ascent ramp makes it pos­si­ble to reach the upper area of the house before descend­ing the child-friend­ly slide – a form of exer­cise that has a pos­i­tive effect on spa­tial per­cep­tion and improved bal­ance and coor­di­na­tion skills of small chil­dren.

The high­light of the play area for the “big ones” is a com­bi­na­tion of the wood­en play­hous­es Woodville,in which two dif­fer­ent “shacks” share a com­mon post. The larg­er of the two shacks is equipped with a tran­si­tion­al net­work, which is com­bined with an access net. The two shacks are con­nect­ed through a bal­cony that can be climbed via a rope lad­der or using the rock­ing-plate ascent. “The pro­mo­tion pos­si­bil­i­ties are delib­er­ate­ly cho­sen so that they offer dif­fer­ent lev­els of dif­fi­cul­ty and also offer an excit­ing chal­lenge for old­er chil­dren,” says Pohlann. “Even when choos­ing col­ors, it was impor­tant to me that the ropes, balls, clamps and roofs look as inter­est­ing and appeal­ing as pos­si­ble. At the same time, of course, the play equip­ment should fit in col­or with the new façade design of the adjoin­ing apart­ment blocks.”

Respon­si­ble for the devel­op­ment of Woodville at the Berlin Seil­fab­rik is Katha­ri­na Hilger, engi­neer of the Berlin Cre­ative Cen­ter: “My per­son­al high­light of the Woodville play­ground equip­ment is the con­struc­tive and ele­gant wood pro­tec­tion. Both from above and from below, the wood is pro­tect­ed by oth­er mate­ri­als. The ele­va­tion is part of the design and the round logs do not end in the usu­al met­al post shoes. In addi­tion, I am pleased about the hybrid char­ac­ter of indi­vid­ual com­po­nents. This means that the parts that are sub­ject to heavy loads when play­ing do not con­nect direct­ly to the wood, but to stain­less steel pipes, which are much more sta­ble and resis­tant – and thus con­tribute to the longevi­ty of play­ground equip­ment.

Round­ing out the play­ground are two play points of the Berlin prod­uct group URBAN DESIGN. The dou­ble swing Swingo.2.4 allows two chil­dren to swing at the same time and was set for Pohlann from the begin­ning: “Rock­ing is impor­tant for a play­ground, it always works!”

In addi­tion to its styl­ish organ­ic design, the rock­er aba­cus impress­es with three slid­ing weight balls. Depend­ing on the weight ratio of the users, these can be shift­ed so that peo­ple of dif­fer­ent weights can be bal­anced and swung togeth­er. At the same time, the play point illus­trates essen­tial phys­i­cal rela­tion­ships in terms of grav­i­ty and bal­ance. Here the chil­dren have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to get in con­tact with the sci­en­tif­ic laws in a play­ful way.

“Not only the ten­ants of the adjoin­ing apart­ments and the sur­round­ing kinder­gartens are more than sat­is­fied with the redesign of the play­ground, but also inci­den­tal­ly pass­ing bypassers are now more often in the court­yard on the Dier­ha­gen­er road,” says Oliv­er Pohlann. HOWOGE has thus lived up to its mot­to “more than usu­al”.