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Városliget – Main Playground

The playground is located in Városliget, in the heart of Budapest. It has been constructed through the Liget Budapest Project, in which Europe’s first public park is being reconstructed. The surrounding in itself, in which the playground got implemented, is exquisite, with a well-developed mature population of trees, perfect micro areas from full sun to shade, to place the adequate functions. The project element is part of the renewal of the second phase of the park.

The main design aim was to let the surrounding nature predominate and let the play equipment have a light see through character, without having focus on them. The playground also carries a theme with a content of historical and natural elements, that were once part of Városliget. The elements are visualised on the rubber paving of the playground, which resembles a huge playing blanket, thrown down in a park. On the blanket the visitors see ’colourful, geometrical playing cubes’, built together to form object of different play-sets for children, the geometric forms, building up to object (graphic co-designer Barbara Bakos), also triggers children’s creativity.

During the preparatory phase of the whole Liget project, more than 140 non-governmental organizations were consulted on the plans and more than half a thousand suggestions and requests were received during the implementation phase, from which 95 percent were built into the design. In the case of the playground, alongside psychologists, landscape architects, teachers and children also contributed to the planning process (Városliget Youth Advisory Body). As a result, the plans respond fully to the needs of children of different ages and their parents.

The main, also central element of the playground, is a three-level climbing cage inspired by Pál Szinyei Merse’s painting: The Balloon. Adopting the famous Hungarian artwork with its playful theme (initiative idea of the Liget Ltd. Content Designer team) brings children closer to appreciating artwork, and the aspects of nature through art in a playful way, with an interactive board. Another main design element of the plan is a water stream that resembles the Rákos-stream, once running through the park.

The implementation of the Main Playground was the first major milestone in the process of making the Városliget family- and child-friendly. Using eco-frinedly solutions were also a great of importance, as for example usage of solar pavement (planned by Platio) or using recycled building materials.

The playground has an overall area of 13,000-square-metre. Approximately 50 pieces of playground equipment were selected to develop key competencies and cognitive skills, grouped together as appropriate for different age groups. Awaiting children are more slides, swings, many types of rotating play equipment, sandboxes, individually designed rope-climbing complexes, trampolines, and a gently curving water stream with locks and water games. Some pieces of the equipment are of a special integrated design in order to allow unimpaired and disabled children to play on them together. Other pieces of the unconventional play equipment are also suitable for families to play together on them, with the unique net structures able to support the weight of parents as well.

It was an important aspect, to provide space for free play and on making sure that the playground – through both its layout and equipment – would stimulate the children’s creative energy, with, for example, replica fossils resembling palaeontology finds situated in the sandbox aimed at the youngest children, where they can be unearthed and inspire learning in a fun setting. SMART solutions are also not lacking in this modern play area for the digital generation; for example, the smart slide will measure the children’s speed as they descend. Naturally, mothers of infants were also taken into account in the development process with planned baby/mother swings, and tranquil spots in this part of the park have been partitioned for nursing.

One important objective of the playground is for differently abled children to be able to play with their able-bodied companions, which is why numerous types of easy-to-access integrated play equipment have also been installed. We have set the objective for all the equipment in the entire park to reflect to social requirements, namely the sustainability of the games and equipment, equal opportunity for play, and the need to convey the importance of integrating playmates with atypical development patterns – such as those with disabilities. The Városliget as overall project has a well-planned information system with more wifi spots (included also in the Playground area) and an online application, through which visitors can get useful information about park use, and additional datas. The application, and meeting points also helps in building a Liget-community, which is a main aim among the long-term plans of the park.

Name of the project: Városliget – Main Playground (Liget Budapest Project)
Photo credit: Talabér Géza
Project location: Városliget, Budapest, Hungary
Design year: 2018
Year Built: 2019

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