City: La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime, France)
Year: 2017

The city of La Rochelle (France) was looking to redevelop Valin Square, a symbolic location in the Old Port, so that its inhabitants could rediscover the area with its unique location halfway between the city and the sea.
The aim was to restore the square’s image as a place where families could spend time and admire the views. Officials wanted to use the original triangular shape, with two sides facing the docks and one side overlooking the old town, to create a playground influenced by the “relationship between the maritime world and children”.

Organising the playground into two clearly identified parts

The land and the sea are contrasted and separated by a wide pontoon.
Each space is marked by a range of play elements and colour codes consistent with its own world.
The pontoon symbolises the dunes formed by the wind. Its undulating shape creates a dynamic feel in the middle of the playground.
On the land side, the lighthouse faces the beached boat on the sea side. A steel wire aerial gangway links the two play items. Its transparent design encourages children to overcome their fear of heights.

Arranging the bespoke play equipment

The two-level lighthouse has play elements inspired by the maritime world, including green and red lights, a speaking tube and a telescope.
The bow of the beached boat provides opportunities for role-play and meeting other children. The slide encourages children to dive into the open sea.

Children are immersed in a three-dimensional play environment with rope games mounted on undulating shapes, multi-seat pods and a wide slide.
They can slide, climb, crawl and swing with the exciting feeling of braving the waters of a rough sea.

Near the docks of La Rochelle’s Old Port, a structure made of suspended stepping stones conjures up images of seaweed lying across the seabed. The encircling flying shapes give the illusion of powerful underwater currents.
Every movement that children make in this underwater environment is on small, unstable surfaces placed at different heights.

Child-sized crates that have been washed ashore have been transformed into climbing frames, hiding places and tactile play features.
The internal walls of these crates have been personalised using the Grafic Games technique, turning them into treasure chests, enhancing their play value and the imaginative possibilities.

As part of the redevelopment of the Old Port area, the City of La Rochelle wanted to have a symbolic playground, with structures that look different from the play equipment usually found in catalogues.

Proludic was given free rein to interpret the theme, with play areas that could be figurative or symbolic.

Proludic has created a unique and entire universe, rather than a simple playground. We thought long and hard about the choice of products, the surface treatment, the range of colours, the layout and even the maritime-inspired decorative details. Regular contact with the client allowed us to fine-tune our response and personalise the project to meet the client’s expectations.

Marielle Bourreau – Head of Research & Development at Proludic