A wheelchair-accessible playing area in Malawi
Malawi is one of Africa’s least-developed countries. Especially in rural areas, there are very limited facilities and amenities of any kind. This does not mean that there are no possibilities, however. Commissioned by the Malawian business Sakaramenta, We designed an entire playground made from recycled car parts.
The playground is located in an old parking lot next to the BEIT Cure hospital, which specialises in orthopedic treatment for children. Without a place to hang out or an inspiring environment, most of the young patients were bored and stayed inside all day. With their limited mobility, they were sitting in their wheelchairs or just on the floor, watching the days pass by.
In order to better understand our target group, we did extensive research in the orthopedic hospital. We talked with doctors and nurses, and also observed patients. Despite the fact that the majority of the patients were in plaster, they still
where quite mobile. While selecting materials that were locally available and useful for the production of the playground equipment, we were drawn to scrapyards and old-metal markets. Inspired by some kids who where playing
in a broken car in the scrapyard, it was these places where we found a guaranteed supply of particularly interesting parts such as tires, springs and axles.
WHAT WE MADE
A complete collection of playground equipment made from old car parts, and a clubhouse made from a converted ambulance.
Back in the workshop of Sakaramenta we started to work on the first prototypes of the playground equipment. Weekly there was a group of children along the workplace that tested our prototypes. With simple technical drawings in hand, we and the craftsman were able to make a complete line of products with the limited tools available: a merry-go-around made from an old car axle, a bouncing spring bike made from used car springs, a running wheel made from old tires, and stepping stones made with old buckets.
We wanted to create a unique centerpiece in the playground. Inspired by the kids who we saw playing in the broken car, we bought an old used Ambulance vehicle that we found in a junkyard for a few bucks. You should have seen the faces of the men in the workshop when we arrived with the ambulance carcass.
We paved the parking lot of the hospital, installed all of the equipment, and proudly placed the reborn ambulance clubhouse in the center. Equipped with a fireman pole-slide, climbing rack, vuvuzela, a regular slide and a double steering wheel in the cabin, the former ambulance stimulated the imagination of the kids and quickly became their favorite.