Living, learning and playing around the school yard

Cases

In the heart of the multicultural urban district of Pendrecht in Rotterdam

Beatrix School is a primary school with 275 students situated in the Pendrecht district of South Rotterdam, Netherlands. It was originally a Protestant Christian school but, like its immediate surroundings, the Beatrix school has now become a multicultural melting pot of at least thirty different nationalities. All the children play together in the large front playground or in one of the two extra playgrounds that were installed especially for toddlers. Until 2006 the school playground provided very few challenges to children at play - which can also be said for the district as a whole. And this in an area with a large number of high rise buildings and very little greenery, where children use play equipment very intensively both during and after school. It was time for an update then, which came about due to a new collaboration between several institutions and authorities in the district. KOMPAN got involved to create a child-friendly play zone.

Together with the two other primary schools in Pendrecht, the Beatrix School entered into discussions with the district council of the borough of Chairlos, Rotterdam City Council, the New Union housing corporation and the Playspel Foundation. "Our ideas for the new play area appeared to link seamlessly with existing initiatives to enhance the image of the district" says director Joop Verschoor, who began his career as a teacher at Beatrix School back in 1970. Houses are being renovated under the "Pendrecht's moving forward" banner, for example. But there are other activities that are giving the district a shot in the arm. A special children's campus is under development as a child-friendly residential, learning and play zone situated between the three primary schools in Pendrecht. With these types of measures, the district must become more attractive to potential inhabitants. Play facilities at schools obviously contribute greatly to this.

All about listening

A large number of parties have been involved in the "makeover" of the school playground at Beatrix School, with Mr Verschoor as the initiator and director of the project. He was also the one who engaged KOMPAN as sole supplier for the new play areas of the renovated playgrounds at Beatrix School. This was not only to do with the choice of play equipment, although that played an important role of course. "Without a doubt, KOMPAN's equipment has the most attractive appearance, and it exudes quality. But what I think is more important is that the advisors from Zaltbommel listened carefully to the concerns of parents and teachers. Aspects such as the use of space and the correct ground base were subsequently incorporated into the final plan."

The entire school yard was refurbished in 2006, with a number of large items of play equipment where many children could play simultaneously, such as the slide and the "Enif" climbing and scrambling paradise from the Galaxy series. But factors other than just play pleasure were also taken into account - including safety. You cannot get around it, and this certainly applies in a busy city district where there is always a lot of traffic. For that reason there is a large fence around the school, and the play equipment is located away from the road and trees.

In the centre of the district

Rotterdam City Council wanted to be part of Mr Veschoor's renewal plan, but stated an important condition for the refurbishment of the playground at Beatrix School, namely that the project must provide added value for the entire district. In other words: the facilities surrounding the school must not only be accessible to Beatrix School students, but also to other target groups such as local children and their parents. That happens frequently in practice according to Verschoor, partly because the majority of residential apartments in the surrounding area don't have any outside play space. "In the evening and at the weekend, local residents sit on the benches around the large trees watching their children climbing and scrambling," observes Mr Verschoor. "But the out-of-school hours crèche allows children to play there after school before they go home. In this way, Beatrix School is exactly where we want it: in the centre of the district".

 

Fast facts

Location: Rotterdam, Netherlands

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