Friday, October 29, 2010

Sustainable Schools in Berlin

Berlin is an amazing city in many ways; architecture, transportation and learning landscapes! In June 2010 I had the opportunity to join Frode Svane's study trip of Berlin Playscapes. It was an inspiring 4 days with thousands of new photos and ideas. I would highly recommend any of Frode's study-trips if you are interested in nature playgrounds, green schools, and adventure play. You are sure to have a good time while visiting the sites!

Reinhardswald Grade School in Berlin was perhaps my favorite. The school had everything; stormwater treatment, eco roof, solar panels, a great natural playground in a forest setting, and happy kids. The stormwater that flows off the school's roof is collected in underground cisterns for reuse in the school. The highlight is that the overflowing cisterns create a stream that runs through the playground into a wetland feature in the middle of the site. During hard rains the principal said that students run to the windows to see the 'stream' appear from under the earth. What a great way to get kids outside in the winter! Here are some of my favorite site photos.

The stream source doubles as a play piece in the summer.

Even the dry stream channel offers opportunities for play!

This pavilion overlooks the central wetland feature where stormwater is cleaned and infiltrated back into the groundwater. The pavilion is open for community use evenings and weekends.

This tunnel and sand play area were fenced off.  I assumed something was broken or perhaps the area was not meeting safety standards. But, the designer explained they fence off certain portions of the playground to allow the grass to grow back. This action also re-excites the students about the space when the fence comes down.

This TV in the school hall shows how much energy the school is producing from the solar panels and using for lighting, heating etc. Students can get a current snapshot of their energy footprint any time, any day.

You can visit the school's website here.


  1. What a great idea to rotate the use of different sections of the play area. Each time a space is reopened it's brand new again!

  2. It sounds like the age old trick parents play when rotating the toys! The principal said it was very effective and gets students excited again in the space. Thanks for your comment.


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