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A Case Study in Outdoor Design: Berlin Playgrounds 7 : Topography


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 Changes of height, opportunities to climb up, observe from, jump off and roll down are important features in every play space. Many projects recycled the waste products from the developments to create variations in topography in the new areas.


Berlin Playgrounds : Topography

Hills: Grass Mounds and banks were created to encourage running up and rolling over, down and around. Some are open and grassed while others are planted with paths through them.


Berlin Playgrounds : Topography

Hills: Non Grass Steps, tunnels, slides boulder fields, water channels, hills and cliffs that encourage climbing and sitting on, crawling through, jumping off and riding on.


Berlin Playgrounds : Topography

Height Gained Through Other Means High places to climb to, observe from and jump off are numerous and include trees, bridges, climbing walls, play equipment, huts, rocks and edges of raised beds.


Berlin Playgrounds : Topography


Berlin Playgrounds : Topography

Practicalities Creation of Hills Most of the play spaces were flat tarmac and paved areas. Some did have other features such as sand boxes and trees but none had the landscaped topography seen today. Variations in height were seen as fundamental for play and so at the start of most projects some large scale landscaping was carried out at the beginning with outside contractors to build the skeleton structure of the site. Hills and mounds were made from soil brought in from other sites, from soil from the foundations of excavations for sand pits or using recycled materials – often the broken up paving slabs. Risk All direct fall heights around play structures of a certain height were supported by sand as a shock absorbing surface. This was often at a deeper level than required as they noted that the sand would be moved throughout the year. However there were many other structures such as rocks, steps and ledges that invited climbing that did not have safety surfacing beneath them. The children learnt to regulate their behaviour and played within their capabilities – with teachers and supervisors noting a reduction in serious injuries.


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 (7: Topography)  

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 (7: Topography)  

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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