“A world of which we didn’t know if it really exists.” That was the title of the design concept for the new adventure playground of the BarraShopping Sul Mall in Porto Alegre in Brazil. Meanwhile, this world has become a reality. Since March of this year, visitors to the outdoor area of the shopping mall are attracted by a gigantic climbing, adventure, and play area which looks like a small leisure park. The park has an ambitious claim to fulfill the needs of children of all age groups and attract their parents, catering to the whole family.
“This space was created so we can stop in time and remember how we lost our ability to dream and imagine, and as we need that time to relive this fantastic world of children's imagination”, says Susana Ventura, CEO and Creative Director of Oikotie, and mainly responsible for the planning and design of the new playground. “And children need it. Need to be children. So especially children in Brazil, where so many do not have the time to be children.”
The 2,500 sqm large area is subdivided into four different thematic areas which are equipped with a total of 39 different play devices, such as the “Sensorial Garden”, the “Magic Valley”, the “Event Area” and an adventure play area called “Bravaria”. In addition, the park offers an impressive infrastructure consisting of a family bathroom, a protected baby care center with all the practical amenities for infants, drinking water fountains, and different food stations.
While the children can experience all their senses in the “Sensorial Garden” with different musical instruments, water fountains and light effects, the “Magic Valley”, with its crooked little houses and fairy-tale creatures, offers spaces for imagination and relaxation. In addition, shows and meetings can take place on the stage of the “Event Area”.
“Bravaria – The land of the Bold and Daring”, offers a multifaceted athletic program of physical activities. Whoever dares can come here to enjoy climbing, sliding, spinning, swinging or jumping. A highlight of this area is the tree house settlement which was built by the company Berliner Seilfabrik. Climbing up the ladder, one reaches the first of a total of three little “Trii”-houses of the Berliner Greenville product range. Through a net tunnel the children can climb up to the next “Trii”-house. An access net allows direct entrance to the “Trii” in the middle and thus offers an exciting alternative to taking the ladder. Finally, another net tunnel leads to the third tree house, from where a tube slide offers courageous climbers a perfect descent from almost ten feet in height.
“This land was created for those who are brave enough to explore it. We created obstacles and high climbing areas, several difficulties, so that kids would have to overcome their fears and strength, when playing. Its also an area where moms and dads like to feel the thrill also, so it unites families in the adventure”, says Susana Ventura.
However, the challenges for the young adventurers do not only lie in climbing up to the tree houses or through the net tunnel, but also in the adjacent low-rope course which consists of four climbing elements, each of which provides different levels of difficulty. The so-called “Wasps’ Nest“, an open net ball made of ropes, which can be reached via a rope ladder or climbing ropes, offers an additional opportunity to have a rest and relax.
Another special climbing experience is provided by the three-dimensional net climber “Jupiter“. It is here where many children can play simultaneously in three-dimensional space and in up to sixteen feet in height. The extension elements, such as the slide, jungle bridge, access net, and rope ladder are additional attractions.
The same applies to the “Disk XL” which is also part of the Bravaria play area. With a diameter of over seven feet, this device, too, offers room enough for whole families without losing its elegance. The angled and concave disc form does not just provide fun but also helps to train one’s body control. It is here where one can experience G-forces in an impressive way.
The offers of this play area are rounded off by the new so-called “Side-by-Side-Swing” which consists of two separate swings as well as a net swing which is ideally suited for swinging together up to lofty heights.
All of the three, the “Jupiter”, the “Disk XL” and the “Side-by-Side-Swing”, provide inclusive value by allowing children with different abilities to play together. They provide numerous challenges for the different motor skills as well as varied sensory experiences. Children with hearing impairments, for instance, can climb inside the spatial net and simultaneously stay in visual contact with other children. ADHD patients benefit from having to concentrate when they are climbing, whereas children in wheelchairs can experience gravity and centrifugal forces together with others on the “Disk XL”. The safety surface chosen allows easy accessibility for all users and even children depending on wheelchairs will be motivated to leave their wheelchair and move on through the spatial net.
In addition to the wide range of movement and fitness offerings, it is an exciting color design and the varied modeling of the ground which are particularly eye-catching. An organic hilly landscape is created through elevations of different heights and the existing hills. Between the play structures, there are flower beds with palm trees, regional and exotic plants and herbs which offer a wide range of colors and scents. This external appearance is supported by the colorful EPDM surface which consists of round forms and paths of different colors which remind of a colorful meadow from a bird’s-eye view. Berliner Seilfabrik, in turn, has adjusted the color scheme of its play devices accordingly, most of which “are shining” in the colors blue, grey and pink and thus look particularly fanciful. “We are especially fond of all the color possibilities that Berliner gives us because color in our projects always has a high presence. Berliner also has very high quality material and high resistance, and this was an important issue when you think of a park which has more than 1.500 kids playing there every day”, Ventura says.
The contracting entity is very happy with the implementation: “By providing our customers with special experiences based on the demands of BarraShopping Sul, we have developed a unique concept consisting of innovative play devices for the whole family”, says Eduardo Vitagliano, Manager of the Shopping Mall, as quoted on the website of the Multiplan Group. The visitor numbers show that he has had his finger on the pulse of age: already in the first three weeks after the park was inaugurated, it has been visited by more than 52,000 people. That is a great success for both the operators of the Shopping Mall and particularly for the children and their families of Porto Alegre.