The playground in the Choriner Street, Berlin, offers a fantastical world for children’s play. It started off as an overgrown, neglected, hidden playground with a certain kind of magical feeling of a ruin to it. The new design retains this wild magical feeling, keeps as many of the old structures intact and introduces new play elements with a special story.
Developed together with the children the new playground is interwoven with an invented tale of the ‘Choriner Folk’. It hints at an old culture that built clay towers or `Chorounds` but is abstract enough to let a lot of space for fantasy and interpretation.
The first concept ideas were developed and discussed in participation workshops. The overall focus was on creating a variable play and use offer for all age and resident groups. The participants were children of all ages, teenagers and adults.
The workshop participants wished for a natural playground that fit well with the existing wild and enchanted character of the space. As a theme for the playground the children imagined a world of caves to explore and hide in. This wish taken seriously and developed in the design team into the ‘Land of the Choriner Folk’.
The playground is divided into three parts: a creative area for free play, an area for toddlers and an area for children. The theme of the ‘Choriner Folk’ ties them together.
The story starts in the ‘Valley of the Old Choriners’ – a circle of fruit trees and edible shrubs in the creative play part of the playground. Here the overgrown natural state was largely left intact to preserve the special character of the place. It is a space for creativity, free play and movement. A more remote part of this area is also designed for teenagers with sitting possibilities and a Ping-Pong table.
The story continues with a ‘Wooden Choround’, where the Choriner Folk started to build their characteristic round structures. The stones of the ‘Circle of the Wise Choriners’ are a place where all seven tribes of the Choriners meet every seven years.
The middle part of the playground is the ‘Capital of the Choriners’ with characteristic terracotta-coloured towers or ‘Chorounds’, which are the skyscrapers of the Choriners. They were specially designed for the playground to help tell a story and create identity. In combination with a rope climbing landscape, they offer a variety of play and hiding places for small and large children.
The third area is the ‘Suburb of the Choriners’ characterized by lower towers. It’s designed for toddlers and smaller children and allows climbing, balancing and playing in the sand. It also includes a seating area for small gatherings.
A fundamental aspect to the design was to include as much of the old playground structures from the 90ies into the new design as possible. The existing path network was largely left in place and only partially extended. Materials from the site such as granite blocks were preserved and reused as paving. Furthermore, incorrectly produced prefabricated concrete parts from another construction site were integrated into the playground instead of having to be disposed of.
The trees were treated with extreme care during the entire construction period. The heavy elements such as the Chorounds were lifted over the trees with the help of a large crane and then placed in the appropriate location in order not to damage the sensitive network of roots.
Project location: Choriner Strasse 21, 10435 Berlin, Germany