Page 1

A Case Study in Outdoor Design: Berlin Playgrounds 1 : Choice


Project Information

The Schools Programme commissioned Grounds for Learning to create a series of nine case studies, which looks at and documents the widespread transformation of play spaces in schools, kindergartens and public parks in Berlin, Germany. The nine case studies focus on different themes that were important factors in the spaces’ successes. The themes are; 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

Choice Risk and Challenge Nature with a Capital N Play Machines Sand Shade and Seating Topography Variety and Texture Water

Within each case study there are examples and images from a variety of settings – schools, nurseries and public play parks – to show the variation and scope of the design ideas. All areas shown began life as flat, dull tarmac grounds but they demonstrate that it is possible to transform schoolyards into playgrounds.

Introduction Often playgrounds in the UK are dominated by just a couple of activities, segregated by age or gender in prescribed zones. In these natural playgrounds no one type of play is dominant. All children of all ages and genders are engrossed in various types of play together and on their own.


Berlin Playgrounds : Choice Fixed play equipment Slides, swings, climbing frames, water pumps, bikes, football pitches etc are all popular with the children who play with them in both conventional and unconventional ways!


Berlin Playgrounds : Choice Loose materials Aspects of the natural environment (sticks, stones, water, leaves, clay, mud, sand) are used during play both spontaneously and through projects with local artists.


Berlin Playgrounds : Choice Cooperative play The wealth of possibilities for play enable all children to participate in something they are interested in and mixed age (although often same sex) groups are seen working together.


Berlin Playgrounds : Choice Quiet play The variety of spaces allow children of all ages and both genders to take time out and either sit on their own or play their own games whilst not disturbing others.


Berlin Playgrounds : Choice Risky play Without constant supervision children often play in ways that could be perceived as risky. Minor accidents have increased but schools and settings have seen a decline in more serious accidents as children learn about their own abilities.


Berlin Playgrounds : Choice Active play Moving the football goals to one side to encourage smaller games and include more children is one way to stop the dominance of football. A variety of activities take its place including running, swinging, climbing, walking, balancing, riding, lifting, dancing and walking.


Berlin Playgrounds : Choice Practicalities Zoning of areas All of the playgrounds had quite distinct ‘rooms’ created by changes in size, surface, texture, equipment etc. These have a distinct feel and can focus on a particular feature such as a water feature, but as there are no fixed boundaries or fences between them they are open ended and can be used in any way. Multi use games areas were naturally used for sports such as football but play was diverse and no one form of play dominates the space. None of the playgrounds have areas zoned by age and all children mix together. Health and Safety Risky and physical play with loose materials happens in many areas but there has not been a rise in major accidents. Children regulate their behaviour and work with each other to challenge themselves safely. As no areas of the playground are out of bounds, and there is such variety, activity tends to stay within each area and there are no accidents caused by clashes of different types of play. Staff and parents agree on the importance of being able to escape from the constant supervision of teachers and so children are allowed to spend time where they can’t be seen – in bushes and shrubs for example. Supervisors stay in the same spot to enable them to be contacted should they be needed.


Project Information The Schools Programme commissioned Grounds for Learning to create a series of nine case studies, which looks at and documents the widespread transformation of play spaces in schools, kindergartens and public parks in Berlin, Germany. The nine case studies focus on different themes that were important factors in the spaces’ successes. The themes are; 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

Choice Risk and Challenge Nature with a capital N Play Machines Sand Shade and Seating Topography Variety and Texture Water

For more information about what we do, and to view the other Case Studies, visit SmarterPlaces.org.

Architecture and Design Scotland Bakehouse Close, 146 Canongate Edinburgh EH8 8DD Level 2, 11 Mitchell Lane, Glasgow, G1 3NU T: +44 (0) 845 1 800 642 F: +44 (0) 845 1 800 643 E: info@ads.org.uk

www.ads.org.uk www.smarterplaces.org

Produced in association with

A Case Study in Outdoor Design: Berlin Playgrounds (1: Choice)  

The Schools Programme commissioned Grounds for Learning to create a series of nine case studies, which looks at and documents the widespread...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you