An encounter with nature - a case study

    Listen to the birds. Watch the sun’s rays pierce through the leaves. Smell the plants bursting into bloom. Feel the magic of the playground in 'Barnens Sofiero' in an environment where kings, statesmen and visionary women have contemplated their country, riches and nature through the ages.

    We have designed a playground in the castle park, where you can get right up close to nature. The different paths and new play equipment support and enhance the experience. Take the dizzying 12-metre high ride on the adventure course and feel a light breeze or a warm ray of sunshine on your face, or climb up in a green rubber boot to whizz back down again. Yes - a green rubber boot!

    Every year, thousands of architecture and garden enthusiasts visit Sofiero, and we were also tasked with creating experiences for more and new types of visitors.

    Take a tour of the playground and the Sofiero case study here.

    Wishes for the new playground

    Every year, thousands of guests visit this Nordic gem in the magical setting with both magnificent architecture as well as ornamental gardens and a castle park with format. This is where you can really get a sense of history, which now bears a hint of 'modern times' with a festival of light in the castle and with Drömlju's festival in Helsignborg.

    In 2021, the Helsingborg Arena & Scen AB (HASAB) subsidiary of Helsingborg municipality decided to put the creation of a new playground out to tender. The playground was to be located in the area of the park known as 'Barnens Sofiero' (Children’s Sofiero). Here you’ll find the King's fine, old playhouses, raised beds and greenhouses.

    Light-up zip wire in the treetops

    The walkway is built from 1-metre wide larch tree planks and there is a knot-free nylon safety net all around.

    Magical lighting

    We've brightened the magic. The up to 12-metre high and 180-metre long walkway has built-in lighting that can be used both in connection with Sofiero's festival of light and also at Christmas, when the light can be changed to red. It can also be part of a colourful Halloween party.

    Man meets nature

    With the adventure course in the treetops, we brought the magic of the forest right up close to the body. A quiet stroll between the leaves, twigs, crooked branches in the changing seasons with the sunlight falling between the trees is breathtaking. But it’s not only the sense of sight that is stimulated. The rustling from the squirrels, the birds chirping and singing and the buzz of insects are also gifts from nature. How about the scent of smell of beech trees and ornamental plants bursting into bloom?
    This is where you get right up close to nature.

    Getting up and down from the adventure course is done via a ramp to the east and via a spiral staircase swung around a tree in the middle of the course.

    The spiral staircase has three levels, so you have access at ground level and on the first and second levels of the course. The course has nine relaxation and look-out plateaus, where with the steep sloping ground below, you get an amazing view all the way out to the sea and over to Denmark.

    Like everyone else, we were also captivated by the nature of the area when we visited Sofiero in 2021, and naturally we took on the task with awe.

    Because the client did not want a classic playground solution in these beautiful historical surroundings, we chose a design solution that stood in direct contrast. But how could this be solved without destroying the whole? How could we take care of the lovely, old tall trees in the park when we would be adding new materials and given that the steady flow of visitors must not be allowed to impact the forest and nature too much? We wanted to proceed gently and we wanted to avoid cutting down any trees.

    Could an adventure sky course be woven in between the external trees without setting up new posts? New posts were not something we wanted. In our solution, we let nature and planting control the direction of the course - we adjusted to nature.Buckles on the long bridge between trees were secured with steel wire.

    Our hiking course, which is not a classic go high course, was carefully reinforced by drilling through tree trunks, allowing the tree to eventually close around the thread bars. We didn’t want to put mounting around the tree as this would prevent the further growth of the wood. The solution also ensured that we got an elegant and invisible feel and look.

    Green rubber boots as a play tower

    The park's new play tower is shaped like green rubber boots, with reference to the ornamental garden and the beautiful greenhouse. Rubber boots act as a play tower with built-in ladders and slides. The play tower is located in a play area with sand, where flower pots and other sculptural play equipment have also been installed.

    Last but not least, there were also experience frames, fields of moss, chips and cones, as well as a hammock set up in the troll forest, where the sun can peek through the treetops.

    Wheelchair-friendly obstacle course

    As part of the adventure course and walkway, a wheelchair-friendly obstacle course has also been created with the same functions as the walkway.

    This obstacle course takes the visitor on a green adventure between the trees, with a wonderful look up towards the treetop course - and its light in the dark hours will be a beautiful sight.

    The historical framework

    Only five kilometres north of Helsingborg city lies the fairytale summer castle of Sofiero.
    The castle was built in 1864 when the Swedish Prince Oscar and wife Sophia of Nassau bought the farm Skabelycke. The farm was located between wooded canyons on the coast overlooking the Sound and Zealand with Kronborg in the background. And what incredible surroundings they are - you can understand the couple's enthusiasm.

    Beautiful love stories through the generations

    The most romantic wedding gift imaginable was given by the royal couple when, in 1905, they gave Sofiero to their grandson Prince Gustaf Adolf when he married Margareta from England.
    This would be the start of a magnificent park, including a royal playhouse.

    Castle garden with format

    The Crown Prince couple Gustaf Adolf and Margareta were keen gardeners. The Crown Princess drew her inspiration from the magnificent English parks, and possessed a knowledge of plants and a sense of colour and shape. A magnificent park with flower beds and corridors was quickly established. Rhododendron was also planted and a greenhouse built.

    In 1973, The Swedish King Gustaf VI bequeathed Adolf Sofiero to the Municipality of Helsingborg.

    Establishment of the playground

    We are building the playground for Sofiero in two stages. The first stage will be the establishment of an adventure course and play tower in May 2022. The second stage is the establishment of an accessible obstacle course in April 2023.

    The tender

    The tender was issued by HASEB in 2021, and we won the job primarily because of the beautiful, adventurous design that had respect for the surroundings.
    One of the requirements was a presentation of case studies. We submitted Randers Rainforest and the Danish Blind Society as case studies.

    The materials to be used were particularly important:
    * the solution was not to be too classically royal
    * the first stage of the playground was to be completed at the EXPO in Helsingborg in the summer of 2022, where Helsingborg will receive over one million visitors
    * the surroundings and nature had to be part of an adventure
    * experience path in the treetops
    * wheelchair-friendly obstacle course
    * and maybe a new play tower

    Would you like to know more?

    Sofierovägen 131
    SE - 252 84 Helsingborg

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