Berliner Seilfabrik have been exclusive partners with Russell Play for over 30 years. In that time, they've developed countless new products and are constantly innovating. As an industry leader, they are always ahead of the game.
We spoke to Marius Kotte, Head of Design and Construction and asked a few questions about the technical capabilities and design behind Berliner's products. Read on to find out more.
When Berliner products are designed, how do you make sure they are versatile for all spaces?
We do this by responding individually to every situation and every customer request. In our strong Berliner Creative Center, consisting of landscape architects, architects, draftsmen, engineers and designers, we have the necessary knowledge to adapt our playground equipment to any given situation. At the same time, through consistent insourcing, we have all the machinery in Berlin that are needed to design playground equipment with maximum individuality. For example, we can bend tubes in different diameters and customize them in terms of shape and colour. Panels made of different materials can be printed or milled with individual motifs. In this way playgrounds can be themed to a maximum and we are able to respond flexible to customer wishes and to the situation on site. Furthermore, almost all Berliner equipment is based on a modular system. This enables us to combine play equipment from different product ranges with each other. In this way, individual climbing landscapes are created, which are completely adapted to the conditions of a particular space. Another advantage of the modularity is that the climbing landscapes can be expanded at any time. Whether a certain theme, installations on the slope, on the roof or indoors as suspension from the ceiling, everything is possible! Custom is standard at Berliner.
How can Berliner products be adapted to suit rooftop installations?
Every roof project requires an individual solution, the precise nature of which will depend on the building methods and materials employed, as well as the choice of play structure. Foundations habitually employed at ground level cannot, for the most part, be used on roofs. Thus the principal question at the start of every roof project is to what extent the existing roof structure may be modified. Can the play equipment be attached to the existing roof structure directly, or must the existing roof surface remain unaltered? If a direct installation to the existing roof structure is possible, we at the Berliner Creativ Center are able to develop individual connecting elements. If not, we often work with shallow foundations that are wider than normal foundation slabs.
We have already gained a lot of experience with such projects, which helps us to find the required customized, appropriate, safe and clean solution.
What product range would you recommend for very small playgrounds?
Of course, this depends on how small the area is in the specific case. Basically, our spatial net structures with external framework are very well suited for small playgrounds! They use the height as play space and thus offer maximum play value even on a small footprint. The DNA Towers from our Univers product range are a prime example! The DNA Towel L.04, for instance, requires a footprint of less than 10m2. Nevertheless, users have a play volume in the three-dimensional net of over 35 m3 at their disposal. Theoretically, the tower can also be built even higher.
If a playground is too small for a spatial net climber, I recommend our play points from Urban Design. Some of these have a footprint of less than one square meter and still offer an exciting range of movement. Due to their sculptural design, they fit wonderfully into urban surroundings and are very suitable for pedestrian zones, for example.
What’s the most technical or trickiest project Berliner has created? How did you overcome the difficulties?
I can think of many, but if I have to choose, I can say that "Aventura" in Medebach, also known as “Europe's longest Playground structure” was the most challenging project we have built so far. At the same time, overcoming those challenges took us into completely new realms of playground design and almost every custom-made project we realise today benefits from the learnings we made at Aventura. Many of the towers and low rope course elements that we have in our standard portfolio today were created here. Never before we have built on such a steep slope, never installed such high towers, and the length of the climbing facility was also new territory for us. At the same time, we had to deal with extremely difficult ground conditions, as the soil was not homogeneous and we kept encountering surprises on site.
We solved these challenges by pushing our construction principles into new spheres. For example, we developed new connecting elements between the tube and the rope. This allowed us to make angles possible that were necessary due to the slope, which in some cases was over 45%. We manufactured the foundation parts of the equipment in such a way that we could react with maximum flexibility to the ground situation on site. In the end, we managed to plan and install a 168-meter-long climbing facility in record time. Close to thirty six tons of steel was delivered to the building site. Almost one hundred posts were used, the heaviest of which, at 10.4 metres long, weighed 450kg. I could go on now about many other exciting projects such as the spatial net at Swarovski's headquarters in Austria, the rusty climbing tower in Karl's Adventure Village or the adventure playground on the slope in Bergen, but we will do that some other time.
What’s your favourite product and why?
Well, I have many favourite products. But the one I like the most at the moment is the Cloverwood. This sculpture combines art and play in a very special way, it is a piece of art that can be climbed. Thanks to the warmth of its wood and its undulating curves, Cloverwood is at once inviting and aesthetically appealing. Both the frame and the flat netting offer playground fans an exciting challenge on which to climb, layaway and balance. When seen from above, it takes the form of a four-leafed clover. This lucky clover shape has a particular meaning for us, since it finds representation in the aluminium fixture we developed for our spatial net structures, the so-called cloverleaf ring – a symbol of safety and technical innovation. The frame is made of laminated larch, across which the rope netting is stretched, each rope of which enters a patented Charlotte-Connector, itself incorporated into a wooden frame.