Real Stuff on the Playground: Geopark, Helen and Hard, Stavanger Norway, 2008

Real Stuff’ like gears, planes, and fire trucks were once common on the playground, but have regrettably fallen into disuse.  However, there is no more complete example of a ‘Real Stuff’ playscape than the quite recent Geopark in Stavanger Norway by Helen and Hard.

“Utilising a vacant forecourt adjacent to the Oil Museum as the site for the new park, we drew from three different local resources in the design process: first, the geological and seismic expertise of the oil industry, second, technology and materials (including waste) related to the production of oil, and third, the ideas of local youth groups for the programming of the new park.”

The layout of the park is based upon the geologic layers of the Troll field, Norway’s most valuable oil and gas reservoir, making visible at 1:500 scale the geologic strata hidden 2000 – 3000 metres below the seabed. The topography of the park is based on the geological layers, the “strata”, of the Troll field, reconstructed in a scale of 1:500, with layers partially peeled away to create the park’s slopes.  The strata are cleverly delineated by the different colors of the surfacing in the park with black representing the oil basin.

Workshops conducted with youth groups defined the functions of each sedimentary layer:  biking, climbing, exhibition, concerts, jumping, ball play and chilling-out. The oil basin became a skating park complete with drilling wells, and geologic folds were expressed as graffiti-allowed walls.

The final phase of the park was to create its surfaces and features using recycled and reshaped elements from petroleum installations, the abandoned Frigg oil platform, offshore bases, equipment suppliers and scrap heaps.

The Geopark has turned a formerly abandoned site into an active social space, and is so popular that its originally planned year-long presence has turned into an ongoing (and hopefully permanent!) one…truly an amazing space made of ‘real stuff’.

[All photos via Helen and Hard.  Submitted by Norwegian reader Magnus last fall…thanks Magnus!  For those of you who submit please remember that I love hearing from you but it can take a while for things to appear on the blog!]


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