BDW's First Creative Park in Kalemegdan, Belgrade

The first playground within the nationwide “100 Creative Playgrounds for the Children of Serbia” campaign at the Kalemegdan park in Belgrade, served as proof of concept of the successful realization of this unique private / public partnership, based on strictly non - profit principles. BDW hoped to inspire a large number of local governments and donors, as well as institutions in Serbia and abroad, to join this unique action which is necessary to improve the quality of life by using Design Thinking.

With this entirely new approach to the realization of children’s playgrounds in Serbia, we want to bring 
life to a concept that will last, be in accordance with the highest global environmental and sustainability standards, that will keep up with the times in which we live, and provide safe, comfortable and even a somewhat creative, active and versatile space for play.

In the same time, through collaboration with the some of the best creatives in the field of innovation and design, the playgrounds are meant to communicate a certain “worldly” feeling of design to the most vulnerable and the least protected Serbian population today – our children – as an important inspiration for their development through playing. All playgrounds will be built exclusively in public areas selected in collaboration with local administrations, to provide a democratic and open access to all children of Serbia.

All participants in the project can contribute solely on a strict non-profit basis, communicating a strong message about the importance of advanced creative development of children in our society. As esteemed partners, we invite all interested local administrations to offer locations and provide works and permits; designers, architects and equipment manufacturers to offer their valued services; commercial businesses and institutions to donate funding for the final implementation of the project and, finally, the media to provide the widest possible support through a generous dissemination of the project’s idea.

BDW performs the management and communication of the whole project under equally non-profit conditions, in particular the fund raising part, in terms of animating and inspiring potential partners to participate in the project, while controlling the realization until the turnkey solution at the very end, as creative curators with strict design and quality control of all playgrounds.

At the first playground designed at the Kalemegdan park, Belgrade Design Week connected, as donors, the City of Belgrade with its offices and Property Development Ltd., Serbian branch of the Greek company Lamda Development, known for the construction of a complex on the site of the former Beko factory, restoring the part of Dorćol between the Fortress and the Danube. Their participation in “100 Creative BDW Playgrounds for Children of Serbia” has made it possible for one of the most important playgrounds in Belgrade, which was shut down by inspection because it did not meet the basic safety standards, to become an innovative playground, in terms of concept, quality and design, but also the kind of place that has the world-class quality seen in the greatest cities of Europe and the world.

The experience our association has had in building the first creative playground for children, located in Mali Kalemegdan in Belgrade, showed that only the synergy of all three sectors and the broad coalition can solve this problem in a systematic way. Along with our organization, the City of Belgrade, the relevant utility companies, private company Lamda Development (donor), the Embassy of Finland and the media also participated in the construction of the first playground.

Before we present the study itself, it is important to explain why we have chosen Mali Kalemegdan as the site for the first playground:

We believe that in any activity it is important to start with yourself and your immediate surroundings. BDW is located at Rige od Fere street in the vicinity of Mali Kalemegdan. While taking a walk with our children, we learned that the playground in the heart of Belgrade, one of the most frequently visited sites in Serbia, had been closed by inspection for safety reasons. It motivated us to mobilize and do something useful for our community.

With a generous donation and support from other partners we were able to build a brand new playground very quickly, the first designed playground in Serbia that meets all safety and quality standards.The playground was built on an area of 800 m2, of which 600 m2 is the space covered with toys for children to play with.

BDW selected the “Mada Architecture Studio”, a team of some of the best young Serbian architects who designed, among other things, the Serbian Pavilion at Venice Biennale in 2012, to design the playground.

The equipment produced by the Finnish manufacturer Lappset were installed on the playground, selected for many reasons: Equipment by this manufacturer is of high-quality, with all required certificates, which unfortunately is not the case with Serbian manufacturers; through the Embassy of Finland in Belgrade Lappset has agreed to offer a non-profit price for the equipment, and finally, Lappset's equipment is well designed and fits our design concept. Public utility companies of the City of Belgrade were in charge of construction works and playground maintenance.

BNW's Kalemegdan playground is the first example of a project developed in its entirety on the process of “Design Thinking”, which is based on five simple principles:

• Children should be able to fall on their heads without fear – provide them with a safety that justifies this bold statement – but at the same time we need to inspire and educate them by using the highest design standards.
• Be inspired by genius loci principle – the uneven terrain of Kalemegdan is an inspiration for space design of the playground – and make the playground topography an experience equipment in itself.
• Work only with the best equipment suppliers - legendary design brands – first of all those with a track record of innovation, sustainability, durability and quality of manufacture – such as the Finnish company LAPPSET.
• Cooperate with local government institutions which are acting responsibly in terms of introducing EU safety and sustainability standards in the creation of children’s playgrounds.
• Last, but not least, manage a non-profit dialogue about donations and the manufacturing of playgrounds between key patrons, such as the City of Belgrade and the donors - LAMDA -  entrusted with the development of the BEKO site in the immediate proximity, with the generous help of the Embassy of Finland in Serbia and Lappset.

Belgrade Design Week is overwhelmed by the significant media interest for the “100 creative BDW playgrounds for children of Serbia” project. Leading national media outlets such us Tanjug, Blic, B92 have disseminated key messages from the opening, while a dozen TV stations broadcasted video reportages in key daily news shows, from the Serbian Broadcasting Corportaion to Studio B.

BDW is thankful for a such a support by the media, as this clearly presents the best way for those important messages of the pan-European HUMAN CITIES/ project to reach our citizens, our community and the future partners and supporters of our project.

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