La Rochelle, a play area between land and sea – Case Study

La Rochelle Playground

The City of La Rochelle in France wanted to redevelop Valin Square, a symbolic location in the Old Port, so that the community could rediscover this area midway between the city and the sea. The brief was to restore the Square’s role as a place for families to rest and play. The intention was to use its original triangular shape with two sides facing the docks and one side overlooking the old town to create a play area based on the concept of the “relationship between the maritime world and children“.

Organising the play area into two clearly identified parts

The land and the sea are contrasted and separated by a wide pontoon. Each of the spaces is marked by a choice of play elements and colour codes consistent with its own world. The pontoon symbolises the dunes formed by the wind. Its undulating shape creates dynamism at the centre of the play area. On the land side the lighthouse faces the boat that will go out to sea. A steel wire aerial walkway links the two elements. Its transparency encourages children to overcome their fear of heights.

Arranging the bespoke play equipment

The lighthouse, designed on 2 levels, has play elements inspired by the maritime world such as green and red lights, a speaking tube and telescope. The bow of the boat that has run aground provides opportunities for role-play and meeting other children. The slide encourages children to dive into the open sea.

Children are immersed in a three-dimensional play environment with rope games mounted on undulating shapes, multi-seat pods and a wide slide. They can slide, climb, crawl and swing, experiencing this exciting feeling of braving the waters of a rough sea.

Child-sized crates that have been washed ashore become climbing frameshiding places and tactile play features. The internal walls of these crates have been personalised using the Grafic Games (bespoke design) technique, turning them into treasure chests, enhancing their play value and the imaginative possibilities.

“As part of the redevelopment of the Old Port area, the City of La Rochelle wanted to have a symbolic play area, with structures that look different from the usual ‘play equipment catalogue’. We were given free rein to interpret the theme, with play areas which could be figurative or symbolic. This led us to create more than a play area: an entire universe, unique in itself. Our approach included supplying products, surfaces and managing colour consistency, right through to the decorative details. Regular contact with the client enabled us to give a response that matched their needs and further personalised the project to exceed their expectations.” Marielle Bourreau, Proludic Research and Development Director.

Click HERE to view the design concept and inspiration for this play area.

Watch La Rochelle time-lapse video:

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