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Maier Yagod holds a Masters of Architecture degree from the University of Toronto and a Bachelors degree from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He is a practicing architect. He is the founder of the “Jerusalem Playground and Open Spaces Research Group” and the the “Parametric Playground Research Group”. He lives in Musrara, Jerusalem

Strömparken - Norrköping, Sweden - A Living Room for Fish and People

 

Quality playscapes, nature and post-industrial landscapes seem to be rich ingredients for playspaces.

The construction of the Strömparken park started in 2012, and the park itself was inaugurated in 2013. Designed by the Landscape architects Johanna Grander (principle) and Ulrica Heidesjö of Tyrens AB.  The park is one of those striking surprises one finds in medium sized towns such as Norrköping in eastern Sweden.

This 20 million SEK (2.3 million USD) park follows a linear route with the expressed purpose of allowing fish to pass the waterfall created by the inner city dam (Hästskodammen) adjacent to it. The small stream runs along and through the park and in a sense is its very backbone.

Stream and Paths

Stream and Paths

Those who visit the park can see, step over, step in and add water to this stream. The park brings together people and fish within a 19th century industrial landscape. “The stream within the park which flows from the “Lekbäcken” complements the bigger waterstream from the  “Motala ström” that passes just outside the park” says Ulrica Heidesjö. But its function is not limited to being a piscine thoroughfare, the park aims to foster and enhance community and wellbeing in the city by adding a quality public space which residents can enjoy throughout the day and night.

Mechanisms which allow fish to go up stream and pass the dam are incorporated into the park

Mechanisms which allow fish to go up stream and pass the dam are incorporated into the park

The designers set out and managed to create what they call an outdoor “livingroom”. People can be seen picnicking and playing in and along the water during sunny days. Families, groups of children as well as parents with toddlers all seem to find their place and interest in this park. At the same time the stream itself acts both as a destination and backdrop.  

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A special attraction for the younger children is the water pump, the water stream it creates and various water play options it fosters along its path. This pump ends in a small enjoyable mud pit. Since the stream of the water is powered by the children themselves, they can be seen running up and down the path of the water examining how their actions create different flows, spills and general fun.  The mud pit at the end allows for the sculpting of mud creations. This rather moderate plascape is ideal for children under 5 years old.

 

Both Parents and Children participate is activating the water feature.

Both Parents and Children participate is activating the water feature.

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Water activates various parts of the playspace.

Water passes through various stages and playable mechanisms.

Water passes through various stages and playable mechanisms.

One can also enter the water itself, little pebbles allow for an easy “obstacle course” for very young children. The challenge of hopping from rock to rock over water is one that most children enjoy. The actual risk involved in traversing the water is rather minimal, but the challenge of getting to “the other side” is one of the cornerstones of every play element.  Small islands are situated in the stream which can be reached by wading through the water or by hopping from stone to stone. These islands  allow children to have their own beach front access to the water as they explore the water and fish.

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The steam is also straddled by a walking and bike riding path, as well as residential buildings which overlook the park. These are all essential elements which allow Strömparken to be a quality, safe playscape. Talking to parents who were at the park, they all agreed that this was a unique place to hang out and play. One mother told me that she came especially from her neighborhood to enjoy what Strömparken had to offer.  There is no doubt that this park is a pleasure for all that use it and an quality public space in the city.  

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I would like to thank Maja  Pålsson from the Norrköpings kommun  and  Ulrica Heidesjö of Tyrens who assisted me with information about this project and to Annika Hernroth-Rothstein who showed me the park. 

 

 

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