City: Coimbra (Portugal)
Location: Alma Shopping Centre
The Alma Shopping Centre in Coimbra in the central west part of Portugal wanted to continue its restoration process, explore new ways to increase attractiveness and stand out from other similar centres.
Creation of a spectacular play area installed inside the shopping arcade was the option chosen to meet these objectives. The project, conceived of by the design agency Carve, was assigned to Proludic for creation and installation.
Carve & Proludic, an exceptional pairing
Founded in 2002 by Elger Blitz, Carve is one of the most innovative design studios in Europe and specialises in the development of public play spaces. Since its creation, Carve has been nominated for more than 20 national and international awards.
Approached by the Alma Shopping Centre, Carve carried out the design and conceptual study for the future indoor play space. In January 2019, it launched an invitation to tender to find “the” company able to convert this major project into reality by creating and installing the full-scale structures.
Proludic, with over 30 years of expertise in the design, engineering, manufacture and installation of play areas, was selected to bring the project to fruition: 4 giant rings with excellent play value, the highest of which allows children to reach a level of 9 m above the ground.
A gravity defying adventure
The play area has a surface area of 190 m² and comprises 4 painted steel rings, of which 3 are interlocked vertically and 1 stands alone on the ground. Each ring is a play space in itself with many fun activities inside and intended for children in a specific age range.
The very special feature of this play area is that it integrates perfectly into the structure of the shopping centre: the most spectacular ring, starting at 3.50 m above the ground and reaching almost 10 m in height, encircles one of the centre’s main foot bridges. The play space therefore links the two floors of the Alma Shopping Centre creating genuine interaction between the site’s commercial offer and deployment of the site’s leisure offer.
The impression that the rings are hovering in the air reinforces the magic of this play site.
These innovatively designed structures offer a contemporary mix of architecture and leisure space, providing families with an enhanced customer journey and offering children a truly exceptional experience.
- The ring on the ground is for very young children from 2 to 4 years. With a circumference of 9 m and 0.8 m in height, this tunnel has several entry and exit points and peep-holes intended to reassure both children and accompanying adults who can easily intervene if necessary. The layout of the structure encourages children to climb on all-fours and move forward through a dark space, thereby refining their motor skills and strengthening psychomotor development. This ring is also a perfect place for playing hide-and-seek. Positioned at a distance from the other 3 rings, it offers a calm environment for young children.
- Access to the second ring, intended for the 4 to 8 age group, is 2 m from the ground by means of a ladder. Once inside, children start their journey by scaling a climbing wall – covered in rubber – and then continue using vertical ropes to help them stay balanced in a space with a 32° slope. At the highest point children are 3.50 m from the ground
- The third ring ramps up the level of play and sensations…
Tilted at 45° and 6 m in diameter, this ring is divided into 2 parts: one half is “open” and has a rope net for climbing and the other is enclosed with a tube slide for going back down.
This is also one of the entry points to the final ring intended for 8 to 12 year olds. This highest ring presents a real challenge for children and perhaps an opportunity to push themselves to their limits: a vertiginous 50° slope requiring very good balance, the sensation of empty space created by the stainless steel mesh walls, and great height with the topmost point close to the retail centre’s ceiling.
Children progress in a tube 1 m in diameter in which they have to adopt a leaning-over posture – an additional complexity to manage whilst moving through the structure.
Children can also access this final structure via a straight ladder with 3 different sized sections: 3 m of vertical climbing for faster access to the first stage of an exhilarating adventure!
Creation of this unusual and ambitious play space showcases the remarkable expertise of the Proludic teams. Technical engineers, operators and installers executed the project transversally with the Carve agency as project manager.
The play space was opened at the end of 2019 and has since met with great success.
The Alma Shopping Centre’s wish to stand out from the competition has certainly been achieved!