top of page
DSCF6785 copie.jpg

Shadow Playscape


Stadt Köln

(to be defined)


Pavillion Kalk Youth Center


Project manager& fundraiser,

workshop organiser

Design team

Joanna Blusch

Julie Farré

Helen Müller

Lili Neuhausen


Burgerpark in Kalk district, Cologne, Germany


3 months

DSCF6805 copie.jpg









Shadow Playscape is an interactive installation designed for children, allowing them to interact with the shapes created by the casted shadows of our installation.

This project was a self-initiated one our team picked up during our studies. We are now looking at promoting it to the city of Cologne.

Strategic location

Exploiting the human-centered and sun-based potential of an area

Our main focus for the start of this project was to make the Kalk district in Cologne more welcoming and children-friendly. 

We chose this neighborhood based on the following facts:

Fichier 1.png

It is a diverse and multicultural district with the highest percentage of migrants in Cologne.

Fichier 3.png

The rapid growth and development of the district have pushed the city of Cologne to invest to better the standards of living

Fichier 2.png

It possesses one of the only green areas on the right bank of the Rhine, the Burgerpark (2.8 hectares)  which had the essential criteria necessary for the completion of our project, namely :

  • free space for a potential installation

  • great sun exposure, lack of shadows

  • it's a residential area.

These findings inspired us to step away from classic children's playground design and use the site's sun exposure to create a shadow-based set-up.

Screenshot 2022-07-06 at 13.58.11.png

Co-creation workshop with users

Designing with children

We wanted to involve children at a very early stage in the design of our structure and carry out a research and ideating session with them.

We rapidly reached out to Pavillion Kalk Youth Center which accepted to support our project and help us organize a workshop with the children living near Burger Park.

Workshop tools

To make sure the children understood what our installation was about, where it was going to be set, and how the shadows would work, we prepared:

  • a scale model of the parc

  • some miniature dummies

  • transparent sheets of colored paper and lamps to show us which shapes they would enjoy playing with the most... and the input was very insightful!

DSCF6073 copie.jpg

Our scale models and dummies, here to illustrate the concept of scaling


Our major insights after the workshops were the following:

  • To keep a mix of abstract and figurative shapes  (a simple red square is as inspiring as a figurative shape and can become "fire" in a child's mind)

  • To mix colors and create new hybrid creatures or patterns

  • Enable shapes to overlay

  • Give children the ability to control the position of the shapes.

Giving agency to the user

Prototyping a rotating structure

Following up on our research, we started developing several leads through sketches, rough mock-ups, and prototypes.

We settled on an installation made up of two poles with rotating arms that children can move thanks to a disk at the center of the structure.

We designed eight different shadows of different colors which can overlay when the installation is interacted with. This enables kids to control the different shadows and experiment with the position of the sun and the color mix.

WhatsApp-Image-2022-05-30-at-15.54.30 copie.png
IMG_4190.JPG-e1657009210500 copie.jpg
PXL_20220525_111748742 copie.jpg
Unknown-2 copie.png

Some first ideas : a suspended structure ? A vertical one ?

Finding fundings through Crowdfunding

To get sufficient financial resources for our structure, I set up a GoFundMe campaign. This was a very interesting experience as it pushed me to create a lot of communication around our installation, activate different professional and personal networks, and gather some insight into crowdfunding strategies.

In the end, we managed to obtain all the money we needed and more to complete our structure.

Screenshot 2022-09-26 122850.png

Our goal : to reach 450€ by the end of the campaign

Success of the first test

An adventure to continue!

And now, let's play! On a planned date (chosen according to the weather forecast), we brought our two structures to the chosen location and examined how well they responded to children's expectations.

Many children came and interacted with our prototype for an hour. This gave us even more insight into how we could continue the project.

Our plan so far is to build on this new set of feedback and then promote this project to the city of Cologne in the hope that a similar structure could be implemented in the public area.

Our final prototype in Burger Park, Cologne

Fichier 4.png
Fichier 5.png

Key learnings

Throughout this whole design process, I learned that:

  • co-creating with our target audience as early as possible is essential to understand their needs at best

  • creating pertinent tools for a workshop is already half of the work done: well-guided users will deliver great insights

  • having clear roles in a team makes the entire workflow a lot more fluid.

Next steps

In the future, we want to proceed with the following steps:

  • build a more solid prototype and adapt it based on feedback collected during the test session in the park. 

  • promote our project to the city of Cologne and work with them to implement more of these structures in public areas

  • continue testing our ideas until we reach an optimal result.

bottom of page