Siirry sisältöön

Computer-themed playground in Ruoholahti

What if the secrets of technology could be learned through climbing, crawling and rolling? Helsinki is building a computer-themed playground, reportedly the first of its kind in the world, where children learn about computers and programming through play.

A computer-themed playground is being built in Ruoholahti, Helsinki. Computers and technology are a big part of modern children’s lives, but how they work is a mystery to many. What if the secrets of technology could be learned through climbing, crawling and rolling? What if a themed playground made technology more approachable, playful and familiar?

The City of Helsinki has developed author and illustrator Linda Liukas’ idea of a computer-themed playground in cooperation with Näkymä Landscape Architects and Linda Liukas.

The goal is to create a playground that acts as a learning environment that instructors and teachers visiting the playground can utilise.

Designing the park also included close cooperation with pedagogical specialists from the Education Division of the City of Helsinki.

The highlight of the playground is the theme-appropriate special play equipment designed and implemented according to Liukas’ ideas. Ordinary playground equipment, park furniture and surface materials will also be linked to the theme through the colour scheme, expression of form and signs used.

Some of the activities in the playground will emerge naturally, but the instructors at the playground can also utilise the ideas of the playground in guided games and play.

“A computer can have a thousand faces. Children’s own interpretation determines whether they are the main characters of their favourite games, data rushing inside the computer or something completely different.”

Monstrum Ruoholahti Playground

Themed playgrounds

The City of Helsinki has approximately 70 playgrounds where instructed, open-to-all and free-of-charge activities are offered for families with children and children of school age. The playgrounds are popular gathering places and their activities strengthen the community spirit of the area and families’ attachment to the residential area.

The playground in Ruoholahti is the first of the themed playgrounds the city has envisioned to have the potential to attract players from a larger area than playgrounds usually do. The theme selected for the first themed playground is computers and the location is Playground Ruoholahti, because the playground is easily accessible by public transport and there are well-known information technology companies located in its neighbourhood. The playground, completed in the early 1990s, would have had to be renovated anyway.

The idea of a themed playground was inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach used in early childhood education. According to the approach, the environment is the third authority alongside parents and teachers.

Customer-oriented design

Playgrounds are one of the basic services for families with children in Helsinki and they help the local families and children connect with each other. Playground activities are seen as a service that can be used to combat the segregation of population groups and increase the attractiveness of residential areas.

The City of Helsinki has, in cooperation with design company Pentagon Design, developed the accessibility of playgrounds and prepared instructions for designing an attractive playground (Vetovoimaisen leikkipuiston suunnitteluohjeet) (PDF). The design project developed the recognition and appeal of playgrounds through a process that engaged playground users and personnel, and it produced ideas for the development of playground services and the physical environment. Read more about playgrounds design in Design stories.

Monstrum Ruoholahti Playground

The design of the themed playground in Ruoholahti has also utilised different design methods and extensively involved the current and future users of the playground. During the planning, workshops were organised for the local children, pupils and early childhood educators and the employees of the playground.

In the workshops, the participants were told about designing the park.

Children got to write and draw their own experiences of playing in digital and physical environments.

Approximately 350 pupils participated in the workshops.

The playground employees and the local early childhood educators were asked for their opinions on the current state of the playground and their wishes concerning the playground’s future. They were also asked to express their ideas on how the playground could function as a learning environment for technology skills.

In addition, an extensive stakeholder survey was conducted for visitors to the playground. All workshop results and survey responses were utilised in the design of the playground.

Construction of the playground is planned to begin in autumn 2023 and the playground should be completed in 2024.

News item 14 May 2024: The construction of Helsinki’s new themed playground is progressing – computer-themed special playground equipment has arrived

News item 24 October 2023: Construction of world’s first computer-themed playground starts in Ruoholahti

Progress of the themed playground in Ruoholahti

January 2023: Urban Environment Committee approved the playground plan

Spring 2023: Competitive tendering for special play equipment manufacturers

Autumn 2023: Construction of the playground begins

Autumn 2024: Playground opens

Photos: Näkymä Landscape Architects, Hello Ruby/ Linda Liukas, Monstrum