The construction of Helsinki’s new themed playground is progressing – computer-themed special playground equipment has arrived

Behind the fence of the Ruoholahti playground, one can soon wonder about the construction of a colourful computer tower or keyboard stairs. The park will be renovated to become Helsinki’s themed playground, with the installation of computer-themed special play equipment starting this week.
The highlights of the play area are the colourful, themed special play equipment implemented by the award-winning Danish Monstrum. Photo: kuvittaja Riku Ounaslehto
The highlights of the play area are the colourful, themed special play equipment implemented by the award-winning Danish Monstrum. Photo: kuvittaja Riku Ounaslehto

Together with children’s author Linda Liukas and landscape architect office Näkymä Oy, the City of Helsinki is building what is known to be the world’s first computer-themed playground in Ruoholahti. In the playground, children get to know the world of computers and programming while playing. The aim is to create an experiential learning environment in the playground, which can also be utilised by playground instructors and teachers visiting the playground.

The highlights of the play area are the colourful, themed special play equipment implemented by the award-winning Danish Monstrum, which has been selected as a partner on the basis of international competitive bidding. Ordinary play equipment, park furniture and surface materials will also be connected with the theme with the help of a colour scheme, design language and signage. Thanks to the evening lighting, the playground is also interesting for players at dusk.

Special play equipment arrived in Finland last week, and their installation will start this week. From behind the construction site fence, you will soon be able to watch the installation of a colourful computer tower or a giant keyboard, for example. In the completed playground, children can learn to spell their name with binary numbers, for example.

– Understanding of the world is created in childhood on the toes and fingertips. Therefore, I hope that the computer-themed park will also help children see the world of computers as approachable and adaptable. As they crawl in the computer tower, they may imagine themselves as the character of their favourite game, data moving inside a computer or something completely different, Liukas is delighted.

– At the same time, the Ruoholahti playground, like other playgrounds, has a huge opportunity to turn the whole city into a learning environment for children. I hope that the Ruoholahti playground will become an equal and joyful place to learn about technology through play.

The playground has been designed in close cooperation with pedagogical experts from the City of Helsinki. The playground’s users, i.e. the children and employees of the area, have also been consulted in the design of the playground.

Among others, opinions have been asked in workshops and with a questionnaire displayed in the playground. In addition, children have been able to outline their wishes by drawing, for example. One of the wishes come true is a disc golf basket, which was kept in the area thanks to the activity of Ruoholahti Primary Schools’ pupils.

As in the design of all playgrounds in Helsinki, accessibility and peaceful places for those who need them have been taken into account in Ruoholahti. The starting point is to offer something for everyone.

The first modern playground of its kind

Helsinki has a comprehensive playground network, which is to be supplemented by developing the existing playgrounds and building even more themed playgrounds or play areas around the city. Ruoholahti’s computer-themed playground is the first of the new themed playgrounds.

Planning is based on the users’ wishes. The city is currently in the process of outlining both themed playgrounds and ideas for their networking from around the world.

When selecting playground locations, good transport connections or location in an urban renewal area, regional centre or city district park are taken into account. The theme of the playground can come from the surrounding area, as in Ruoholahti, where there are many ICT companies. The theme can also be related to culture or the playground’s functionalities as long as it is playful and feeds the imagination.

In addition, it is important to build playgrounds and buildings from materials that withstand harsh weather conditions in Finland. Play and play areas are renovated about once every 15 years, and new playgrounds are relatively rarely built.

Playgrounds bring people together

Helsinki’s playgrounds have professional instructors on weekdays and offer a wide range of activities. The playgrounds serve and organise activities for both children looked after at home and young schoolchildren. They also serve as important meeting points for the parents of children and offer baby family guidance as a continuation of the maternity clinic’s family coaching.

– It is critically important to foster child-friendly urban design and to create exciting, free spaces for all children to experience and enjoy in the heart of the city. The revamped Ruoholahti playground continues our award-winning design work on future playgrounds. Our aim is to develop playgrounds together with their users into increasingly accessible places that bring the local communities together, says Hanna Harris, Chief Design Officer for the City of Helsinki.

Johtavan leikkipuisto-ohjaajan Tiina Mesiniemen mukaan Ruoholahden leikkipuiston valmistumista on ollut mielenkiintoista seurata aidan toiselta puolen.

– We look forward to the new play opportunities that the playground offers for children of all ages in the area. We hope that people will come to play further away, as the playground is very accessible by public transport. For excursion groups, there will be an instructor in the playground during the school year who will guide groups of children of different ages into the wonderful world of the theme playground. We also look forward to the new play environment in the guided use of the playground for the afternoon activities of families with young children and schoolchildren, Mesiniemi says. 

The new yard area of the Ruoholahti playground is planned to open this autumn, when all children and young people from Helsinki will be able to dive into the world of computers while playing. The contractor is the City of Helsinki’s Construction Services municipal enterprise Stara.