published in sb 4/2016
Redesign of the former throwing ground in Berlin
The SportPark Poststadion is situated in the centre of Berlin between the residential area of Moabit and the new Europacity residential and commercial quarter. The various sports facilities have been undergoing development since 2005 with the aid of public funding (mainly Stadtumbau West) and private investment into an attractive sports, leisure and recreation location. The sports offered are football, hockey, athletics, tennis and roller sports, while a climbing hall and a sauna and wellness facility add to its appeal.
The varied leisure opportunities, mainly made use of by schools and clubs, were to be supplemented with activities for the general public and sports and exercise offers for various, non-organised sections of the population. An area previously used for throwing disciplines at the southeast entrance to the SportPark was available for this. This area also performs an important linking function between Berlin’s Central Station and the main stadium ground and other sports areas.
Ideas for possible uses for the area of the former throwing ground were proposed as of 2006 in various participatory processes. The wishes, ideas and interests of representatives of the Moabit citizens association, sports clubs and the administration were brought together. The management of the quarter put it as follows: “Now there’s space after all – the former throwing ground and the grassed area in front of the casino are to be converted for ‘gender-specific’ use. In concrete terms, this means above all leisure opportunities for girls and women for the otherwise strongly football-dominated Poststadion. The target group of girls and women is poorly represented on the site. The idea is to give mothers with small children and older people opportunities for active exercise. Cultural identity is also important here, because women and men do not always want to and are not always permitted to collectively practise sport or even use changing rooms. To do justice to all these factors and needs, opinions and suggestions from activists and residents of east Moabit were collected and taken into account during planning.”
For the user groups of women, families, the aged, children and adolescents, offers for outdoor fitness training (equipment field), multifunctional sports opportunities and other sports and exercise activities were demanded. The area available for this consisted of a largely unused cinder surface. The perimeters were lined with trees and bushes along an embankment and an unused raised asphalt path bisected the eastern part. In the north the site is bordered by a monument-protected gymnasium, and in the southeast by a cinder and paved surface. In the west there is a tall hornbeam hedge screening off the sportsground behind it.
In addition to meeting the functional requirements, it was the planner’s goal to open the area right up to its edges and to stress the existing topography. The higher-order paths leading to the Central Station were to be integrated into the strategy and also exploited. The design vision for the realisation of these goals was coordinated in various forms with everyone concerned and developed further.
The central element of the new sports and leisure facility is a large area of grass and a roughly 4 m wide, slightly meandering and illuminated path of yellow asphalt. It forms a junction with an also yellow, higher-order asphalt path. It broadens at its southern and northern junctions and leads barrier-free to the existing areas. It performs the important linking function between the Central Station and the main stadium ground and from the sports hall/changing rooms to the football pitches and is also suitable for skateboarding and roller skating. In the grassed area is an oval of sand, which is used for beach volleyball and beach soccer as well as for badminton. The area of sand is framed by a low grassy mound on which players and spectators can sit. In the southwest of the area of grass are play opportunities with a nest swing, a small trampoline and a number of stone blocks for balancing and sitting.
A 200 m long circular wood-chip track serves as a jogging course and links the various areas with their play, fitness training and coordination equipment. By a grassed bank overhung by trees (formerly planted with bushes), wooden sleepers lead up to the roughly 1.5 m higher level along the eastern perimeter of the site. Like in the southwest, plantings screen off the newly developed area from the neighbouring property. In the grassed bank, granite blocks have been integrated as seating and as a place for socialising. In the northeast, the running track broadens towards the fitness training area with its various items of equipment. This area demarcated with a hedge contains six different, easy-to-operate pieces of fitness equipment. Opposite, a coordination course with four wooden balancing and climbing elements supplements the training and testing of physical motor skills. These elements are supplemented with two items of play apparatus in the grassed surface, a swing and a trampoline.
The charm of the facility can be found in its diversity in limited space and, at the same time, in its openness and neat arrangement. It is not a playground or a sports facility, but a combination of small-scale opportunities that invite visitors to engage in physical exercise, to play and to pass the time of day as well as to try things out. Depending on one’s state of fitness, physical constitution and mood, the equipment and areas are used by individual visitors of different ages, by families and by small groups. Supplementing the opportunities for physical exercise, the group seating of granite blocks and coloured recliners introduce an element of relaxation. After a workout, users can meet here in the evening sun and together savour the final moments of the day.