One of the largest and most important inner-city squares in Bochum, Husemannplatz, will be completely redesigned in the coming years. The city of Bochum saw the last phase before the renovation as an opportunity. As an opportunity to try out inner city as an open space and, specifically, to make playing in the city center tangible with unusual ideas.
1. We don’t want a temporary playground, we want a temporary landscape!
2. It should be a place that arouses curiosity, regardless of age.
3. The temporary, the experimental must be visible.
The starting point of the board game is to break the rigid symmetry of the square. The board game refuses idiosyncratic axiality and seeks tension in a form that brings a chaotic moment to the sqaure. About 90 boards lay across the square like a network of narrow webs. The boards run horizontally, dip one below the other, are inclined or have gaps that have to be overcome.
Behind the chaos, however, lies the logic that all boards are the same length and at the same time part of a row. No board is single, but always in line with at least one other board. A decision to bring the work into a creative balance and to make it legible despite all, even conscious disorder. A place that is not a playground for us, but a temporary, sculptural (play) landscape that is open to everyone. And a work that makes the temporary and experimental character visible in its appearance.
The reconstruction of the square allowed us to screw the base plates of the steel consoles into the granite surfaces. Threaded rods are welded to the plates on which steel consoles can be screwed to the correct height with sturdy nuts. This allowed a certain amount of flexibility to react to the conditions of the subsoil during the construction process. There are a total of 3 different heights of the threaded rods, the maximum height including the board always remains below 60cm in order to take the fall protection into account. The larch boards are planed, sanded and glazed in a contrasting color on the edges in order to make the playability more reliable and to emphasize the work in a very heterogeneous environment, also visually. A tactile warning strip was affixed around the work to draw the attention of passers-by to the situation.
Together with the city’s various specialist departments, the project was preceded by an intensive process in which the focus was always on making the unfamiliar possible. Over the course of several months, we were able to solve the numerous questions and problems that such a project in public space brings with it.
The work was designed on the basis of the first sketches and visualizations in the physical model and then translated into more detailed planning (site plans, sections and views), which was the basis for self-assembly.
Juliane von Hagen writes about the “dynamic hustle and bustle on the simple but convincing Mikado made of wooden walkways” in Garten + Landschaft: “The installation encourages young people in particular to climb, balance and jump. They develop games with their own rules that guide their movements on the board sculpture. (…) Sometimes you catch your breath because stumbling and falling are conquests. The euphoria about the endless possibilities and challenges, however, whitewashed any pain. At peak times, dozens of children are playing by their own rules at work at the same time. Course athletes have established the landscape as a permanent training location. Young people with stunt scooters jump over the installation. Still, others just make themselves comfortable on the boards and platforms.
In addition: No serious injuries, surprisingly low maintenance costs, and simply no vandalism at all.
Role of the entrant in the project: landscape architect and builder on-site
Project location: Husemannplatz, 44787 Bochum, Germany
Design year: 2019/ 2020
Year Built: 2020