Lately, I was asked to redesign a playground in Groningen, the Netherlands. It is located in a big green space in the heart of a quiet residential neighborhood, De Hunze.
Before the renovation the old playground equipment were scattered around the park, making it look rather empty. We wanted to create a cozy feeling for the neighborhood’s children and parents while keeping most of the park green. So, we decided to bring all the equipment together in a central location.
The decades-old equipment from around the park had to be removed, including the old wooden swing you see below. Consequently, the soft rubber surface below was planned to be removed.
But why getting rid of the surface? This kind of playground surfacing is relatively expensive, and its costs can be as high as half of a new playground budget. Couldn’t we find a new use for this expensive material? We started thinking about reuse, looking for something that would fit the project goals and resident’s wishes.
During the citizen participation meetings that we held with the residents, they asked us for more sports facilities in the neighborhood. They wanted to be able to do more sports in the neighborhood. So, which activity can be performed on a four by eight-meter piece of soft surface?
All we had to do was to remove the old swing, and fencing the surface in the form of a small football court. If we were creating a new court from scratch, including the surface, the costs could be up to three times higher.
Placing a small panna football court on top of the old swing surface was a win-win solution. First, we got a new, relatively inexpensive facility in the park. Municipal projects are usually on a tight budget, so thinking out of the box can yield more for less.
Second, the new court shows that placing new equipment does not necessitate a complete renovation. Purchasing everything from scratch is easy, but would also be a waste. Using existing materials can save time, money and recourses, let alone make a good story.