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A Case Study in Outdoor Design: Berlin Playgrounds 6 : Shade and Seating


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 Every play space had many areas to sit and shelter – ranging from spaces and objects explicitly designed for the purpose to areas and features that were multi functional.


Berlin Playgrounds : Shade and Seating

Designed Seats Seats, benches, platforms, cubes, logs and amphitheatres made from stone, wood and plastic provide places to sit. Many are moveable and range from seats for individuals to seating for groups.


Berlin Playgrounds : Shade and Seating

Non-designed Seats In addition to designed seats, tunnels, walls, hammocks, sculptures, play huts and bridges are all used as places to sit individually or in groups.


Berlin Playgrounds : Shade and Seating

Designed Shade A wide variety of shelter is available within every setting - shade sails and pergolas provide shade from the sun and play huts provide slightly more sturdy shelter from the rain.


Berlin Playgrounds : Shade and Seating

Natural Shade Children are allowed to play both in and near trees and bushes and these provide adequate shade throughout the day.


Berlin Playgrounds : Shade and Seating

Practicalities Supervision Staff and parents feel it is important for children’s mental health to allow children time to be on their own or with others away from the constant gaze of an adult. Supervisors stay in designated areas should a child need their assistance but are happy to allow the children to play in the bushes. It was not uncommon for children to be completely hidden and unable to be seen for the duration of playtime. Some bushes and trees are thinned to allow greater visibility but others are left untouched to allow children to utilise all areas of the playground – including far away nooks and crannies and planting around the perimeter for long periods of time. Variety At every setting there is a wide range of places to sit and shelter. Enclosed areas built into the bottom of playground equipment and outdoor houses protect against severe weather, trees and bushes provide shelter from the sun and light rain while open and exposed shade sails are best for protecting against the sun and light showers only. Places to sit are evident everywhere and range from large scale structures such as amphitheatres or fire pits for whole classes to small scale areas such as indents in walls or individual rocks. The provision of a range of surfaces, levels and shade means that the floor is often used as an inviting place to sit. The wide variety of areas for both shade and seating means that there is always a choice and nothing becomes congested or needs to be timetabled. Multifunctional Uses With the exception of the shade sails most of the provision for shade and seating is multi functional – rocks, tunnels, steps, mounds, walls, logs and playground equipment are all used as places to sit as well as places to climb on, jump off and play on. Shelters are used as places to climb on, act out role play in and play hide and seek in. Most of the materials used were natural and thus had many affordances – being open ended and able to be used in any way!


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

Profile for Architecture + Design Scotland - Schools Programme

A Case Study in Outdoor Design: Berlin Playgrounds (6: Shade and Seating)  

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

A Case Study in Outdoor Design: Berlin Playgrounds (6: Shade and Seating)  

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

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