‘s Hertogenbosch Borough


Residents place their own stamp on Maaspoort district play area plan

's Hertogenbosch is one of the oldest medieval cities in the Netherlands and is full of historic sights, but in the Maaspoort district they prefer to look to the future. How could it be any different for a region of the city whose foundations were only laid in 1977? In the meantime the district has grown to around 17,000 inhabitants, most of whom are "Oeteldonkers" (Oeteldonk is the old name for 's Hertogenbosch) who have left the bustle of the city for a child-friendly environment where the living is good: close to the motorway and only ten minutes from the bustling city centre. Can you imagine a better place for the first KOMPAN CITYLIFE play area in the Netherlands?

Joris van Strien is district team leader for several areas, including Maaspoort, and in that capacity he is jointly responsible for everything to do with public play areas. "In 2002 the municipality formulated a vision for children's play in its report on space for young people in their own area. On the basis of that report we drafted a district play plan that incorporated various types of play areas. Some of them have a theme such as "western" or "water", or we select a particular style. In the case of CITYLIFE, it is urban, modern and functional".

Circle approach
The district play plan developed by the Public Space and Traffic department is based on circles that determine the number of play areas required for each age group and their location. "The principle is actually very simple. Children up to the age of 6 must have a play area within 100 metres of their house. For slightly older children aged up to 12, this becomes 400 metres, and for teenagers from 12 years old we use a radius of 800 metres. Naturally this must be possible outdoors. In these areas you can find a wide diversity of equipment, but perhaps also a boules area for example. The district play areas are actually designed as meeting places for both young and old".

Play functions and involvement
In the years to come Mr Van Strien has to take into account three new play areas per year in his city area. In addition, the district play plan provides for the renovation of existing play areas. He also uses a handy tool to assess investment in play areas and equipment: "We offset the equipment and prices against the play functions they provide. That way we can see very quickly what yields the best return on investment." The next step is a formulated design which the district team presents to the local residents, who have a vote in all instances. "The residents ultimately decide what a play area looks like, within the boundaries we set, of course. We usually all agree when it comes to play functions and design, and CITYLIFE is a good example of this".

A euro for a euro
According to van Strien the municipality of 's Hertogenbosch not only values the involvement of residents but actively solicits it. "We have a rule we call 'a euro for a euro'. The rule is intended to encourage residents to take initiatives when it comes to play areas. They can declare areas within the district play plan, think up themes for a play area and make joint decisions about the equipment. But this rule also requires residents themselves to consider finance, for example from sponsorship.

For every euro the residents themselves contribute, the municipality also contributes one euro, up to a predetermined maximum. We can even help residents find sponsorships".

The working method used by Mr Van Strien and his team is a good example of the positive interaction between the municipality and its residents. You can see the result at the CITYLIFE playground on Duitlaan, where you can tell from the playtime fun being had there that it is a real interaction.


Fast facts
Location: 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands