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Playground slope at Risskov School in Aarhus, Denmark

featured in sb magazine 4 2021
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Play zones for ample activities

featured in sb magazine 4/2021

 

Making a virtue out of necessity, MBYland has turned the hill which otherwise would have been a functional connection between the ground level and the first floor into an activity area. A ramp, a playground and a place to hang out all in one, the slope changes from a climbing net into a slide, a boulder wall, a flight of steps, and an urban garden. It also serves as a stand for outdoor lessons or games played on the big field in front of it.

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photo: Gitte Hansen

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photo: Gitte Hansen

Risskov School was extended with a new building for pupils from grade 0 to 2. All rooms in this building have access to a large outdoor playground slope connecting the existing school and the new extension to the adjacent football pitch. The hill linking the first floor and the ground level is cut through by a terrace at ground-floor level. It is composed of various sections with different uses and niches.

All the ‘slides’ of the slope have their own character: The climbing net wraps around the building, activating the traditionally dead gable and connecting it to the older part of the school. The net creates a transparent playhouse with a sandbox inside it. More zones serve as obstacle ­courses for 6- to 8-year-old children: soft rubber stubs mixed with steel frames, tree stumps, tyres and a wave of concrete tubes. A mountain landscape is made of FSC-certificated wood creating a warm area, which can also be used to sit on. The pupils participate in maintaining the plant beds, and some of the plants are edible.

Good to know

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photo: Gitte Hansen

Location
Aarhus, Risskov, Denmark

Client/operator
Risskov School

Architects
GPP Arkitekter

www.gpp.dk

Project team
Mette Bruun Yde, Gitte Hansen, Bodil Veibaek, Marie Bruun Yde, Kristina Jørgensen, Kristian Mortensen

Landscape architects
MBYland

DK – 8000 Aarhus C
www.mbyland.dk

Author
MBYland, Marie Bruun Yde

Photos
Gitte Hansen

Official opening
2019

Construction costs
DKR 1.3 million

(EUR 170,000)

Fluent transitions

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photo: Gitte Hansen

The playground slope was conceived in collaboration with teachers, pedagogues and the municipality in response to the wishes and demands of the pupils. A central outcome of the workshops was to avoid mono-functional playground equipment and instead create a series of play zones for changing activities. Furthermore, it was decided to give priority to natural materials and – where artificial materials made practical sense – natural colours.

The placement of the activities adjacent to the classrooms – instead of isolated at a distance – was a strategy to encourage the pupils to go outside. The proximity and well-defined scale of the playground make it easily ­accessible. This is a clear alternative to the classic exposed schoolyard, where some children are intimidated by the large-scale activity and have difficulties in getting involved. Instead, the playground slope offers a retreat and fluent transitions between observers and the observed.

The playground is open to all, day and night. This makes it possible, for instance, for children to use it before they start school, making them feel more at home in the surroundings in advance.

Gender-inclusiveness

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photo: Gitte Hansen

Emphasis has been put on making the hill a functionally diverse and aesthetically natural element. The materials used are wood, steel, netting and ecological composite for climbing rolls and jumping stumps. Artificial grass covers a built-up foundation in order to keep the hill green and prevent it turning muddy or losing its shape in an often wet and cold Nordic climate. The simple shapes combine play with places to hang out and make the different uses flexible. The multifunctional design gives the children ample opportunities for both for physical activities as well as for hanging out next to each other.

The project addresses gender participation disparities by including settings that allow for different physical activity intensities as well as spaces for audiences. Its form is open to interpretations and uses, attracting both girls and boys, groups and individuals, active and passive users.

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