The spur for the design of this park in a suburb of Stockholm was the recognition that activity levels in teenage girls were particularly low. So focus groups of girls were consulted to discover what kinds of structures would encourage them to do more in the park.

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This park in Bredäng, a suburb of Stockholm, is a great example of design done with and for teenage girls.

a wide shot of a bright playground in front of tower blocks

The impetus for the park was the concern that, while most Swedish children and young people were not meeting activity guidelines, this was most pronounced in teenage girls. So the challenge was to give them a space which would encourage them to be more active.

The landscape designers, Niva, held focus groups with teenage girls to find out what they would want from the space.

photos of google earth shots of parks covered in post it notes

It’s good to know that post it notes and small round stickers are staples of the consultation process across Europe.

The result is a park which packs a lot into a small space. The activity area takes up the space of a small pitch but contains both facilities and less didactic elements such as the patterning, which is meant to encourage movement generally – and just fun.

aerial shot of play area painted with orange and white circular patterns

There are a few other features that are worth noting. One is the shelter which runs around one corner, integrated into the main body of the park, so it’s part of the play. Not only does it cover social seating and a bench/stage, it also contains lighting so the park can be used all year round. And it has bluetooth speakers incorporated, so that users can play their own music.

playground with orange seating shelters and girls playing in front

It’s also worth noting that the park doesn’t take up an enormous amount of space, just the area of one single pitch. This has its downsides, especially when contrasted with the vast areas given over to football around it, but what this does mean is that it is a relatively achievable facility which could easily be replicated in many urban situations.

orange shelters and playground with pitches and blocks of flats behind

One other thing worth noting is, and you can see this even better on the aerial shot below, the park is integrated into the heart of the community facilities. There’s always a temptation to stick stuff for teenagers into a far, dark corner because they are a noisy, annoying nuisance, but this design is right at the heart of things, next to the children’s play area and by a main path. This is crucial for making girls feel safe, and so encouraging them to use the space which has been provided for them.

wide aerial shot of playground and area round showing small size

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