The 4,000 m² public playground is the centerpiece of the large housing settlement Springsiedlung in the heart of Berlin. It is designed not only as a play area for children, but also an inclusive place for social interaction for all residents and users from the adjacent neighborhoods. The design of the playground not only fits in the overall concept of the settlement but gives the neighborhood its identity in an iconic way.
The Urban Context
The Springsiedlung was built in the 1960s and is an urban symbol of that time. It consists of up to 8-story open row buildings with a high proportion of green space. This open construction method creates a park-like green space that is very permeable to the surrounding urban space. As part of the redevelopment of the entire neighborhood and the open spaces, the task was to also adapt the play areas to the social and ecological requirements of today.
On the basis of a superordinate open space concept (developed by hochC) the challenge was to achieve a balance between contemporary adaptation and careful reference to the characteristics of the time of origin, in order to take up the identity of the neighborhood and to be able to interpret it in the sense of a modern and diverse society.
In order to establish a design reference to the overall concept of the settlement, the play areas are conceived in connection with the architecture by means of geometric play cubes. They are understood as an intermediate level or mediator between the high row development and the extensive open space. The formal language is derived from the basic geometries of circle, square and line. Steel rods are used to create a rhythmic staggering of heights. In keeping with the design approach of the time, not only the formal language but also the color scheme is taken up. The original color concept of pastel pink, blue and yellow of the facades, balconies and the paving is not only reflected in the playground equipment but is also found in the furnishings of the rest of the neighborhood.
Being part of a residential complex with over 1000 residents, the playground is not only a play area for children. Rather, it has the potential to improve the quality of life for all residents. The overarching goal was to create an inclusive, low-barrier place for all age groups to come together and practice cognitive movement skills. The most important conceptual reinterpretation is the bundling of the formerly many individual smaller play areas into two central, inclusive meeting spaces that frame the settlement alongside the architectural structures. As the new centerpiece of the area, the ‘neighborhood playground’ gains immense importance. It has become a social interaction space that offers room for play, movement and communication.
The playground equipment is developed project-based and in different multi-layered ways. Users only fully experience them during play. Various offers, such as the wheelchair platform with mirror cabinet, the barrier-free sand construction site and a pump track are specially designed for people with physical disabilities. In addition, the movement experience is promoted via requirements for coordination, speed, and height difference. Furthermore, the various senses are playfully stimulated by special surface textures, colors and degrees of difficulty. The high play cubes are nested within each other, offering emotional play experiences such as narrowness and expanse, as well as changing color games through colored plexiglass windows that bring light into the interior of the towers. This play area harmoniously adjoins an existing birch grove which is ideal for picnicking. Together with the numerous platforms and seating groups, public communal spaces are created for families and neighbors to spend time.
In the spirit of a sustainable neighborhood, the ‘rock playground’ creates a close-to-nature experience. Here there is a naturally formed water stone, a water pump, a stone landscape with caves made of large limestones, as well as climbing routes and walls. Various ‘snack islands’ with edible fruits of perennial and shrub plants, as well as fragrant, insect-friendly plants add an environmental educational value. The play and recreation areas are lined by generous bee pastures, as well as landscaped areas of shrubs and bushes.
In addition to the two central play areas, informal play facilities are integrated at certain points along the path. They serve as a stimulus for movement in everyday life, also for adults. These are, for example, balancing offers made of different natural materials such as wood and stone. Due to their unconventional shapes, they have a multifunctional character and are also used as seating elements.
The play and recreation areas are lined by generous bee pastures, as well as landscaped areas of shrubs and bushes.
Other landscape architecture offices involved in the design of landscape: Playground builder Merry Go Round by Ulrich Paulig
Developer: Deutsche Wohnen SE
Project location: Berlin Kreuzberg, Alexandrinenstr., Franz-Künstler-Str.
Design year: 2016
Year Built: 2018-2020
to our Podcast Let’s Talk Landscape #13: Spielplatz: Mehr als nur ein Raum zum Spielen – mit Uli Paulig (german)
-> hochC Landschaftsarchitekten and Uli Paulig talk about Springsiedlung and playgrounds being more than just a space to play
to our Instagram Story Highlights ‚Spring Play‘