20. October 2020

Climbing Path in Nygårdsparken Bergen

Nygårdsparken – this is the name of the biggest public park in Bergen, Norway. The park is located in the centre of the city between the districts of Nygård and Møhlenpris and was originally built in 1881 in the style of an English Garden. Until the end of the Second World War, the park was privately owned and could be visited by paying admission. When the 45 acres park was subsequently opened to the public free of charge, this area became increasingly more common for vandalism, drugs, and misdemeanors which forced the city to close the park entirely in 2014. The aim now however was to change the areas reputation through various remediation measures. Throughout the renewal process, it was crucial for the city to create activities for children and safe spaces for young teenagers to be active. This notion has now been impressively achieved.

A total of 13 different climbing towers are connected via net tunnels and form a contiguous climbing landscape that winds up over 200 feet the tree-covered slope. The entry towers are located at the lower and upper end as well as halfway up the structure and can be reached via climbing ropes, ladders and net plates. To provide more of a challenge, some of the net tunnels inside are equipped with different obstacles. The various passages made of nets and HDPE panels narrow the diameter of the tunnel or the path is crossed by climbing ropes.

In addition to this highly varied range of activities, which is refined in the lower part of the climbing landscape by add-on elements such as rubber membranes at different heights, various horizontal nets, a nest swing and a sway bridge, the users of the playground are offered a spectacular view over the roofs of Bergen as they climb a total of 40 feet in height through the net tunnels.
The natural colouring of red-brown posts and clamps, olive-coloured pipes, as well as beige ropes, make the system fit wonderfully into the parks ecosystem. The panels clad in bamboo also support this style. “That was exactly the goal of the design”, says Torstein Hagen of Uniqa, an exclusive partner of Berliner in Norway and co-responsible for the planning and implementation of the climbing world. “Nygårdsparken is a “protected park”, which means that no major changes may be made to the trees or the appearance of the landscape. That's why we coordinated the design and the colour choice in close corporation with the relevant authorities.”

Not only did the slop present challenges during the installation of this playground, so did the unusual underground situation. “Because the hill in the upper area is made of solid rock, no pits could be dug and the foundations for the individual posts had to be laid above ground”, recalls Marius Kotte, Head of Construction and Development at Berliner Seilfabrik. “The solution was the use of steel reinforcing rods drilled into the rocks. Subsequently, the foundations could be cast around the connectors and thus obtained the necessary stability.”

It was important for the client that the new climbing path became an attraction for children of different ages. “That's why the upper part of the tunnel is a little deeper above the terrain. There, the slightly smaller children can try their hand freely. The path gets steeper the further you go down”, Linn Riise Handal told Bergen Commune. She is a landscape architect of TAG Architekter and was also responsible for the planning of the playground.

Both the contracting authorities and the end-users are satisfied with the result. “It's become very good”, Signe Wie, project manager for the Agency for Urban Environment, told reporters from Bergen Commune. “It was a challenge because the terrain is so steep, but I'm very happy with the installation and final result. Nothing is as good as child's play and laughter.”

Two guys Tobias (7) and Levi (8) see it no different. “This is the best playground”, they scream as they make their way through a climbing tunnel during the opening ceremonies – while laughing!

Photos: © UNIQA AS