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Apolonija Šušteršič

The construction of the new underground Emscher wastewater canal in 2013 required relocating the youth club »emscherdamm« and its playground from their previous location in the Holten district of Oberhausen to a new home on the nearby site of a former recreation ground and the adjacent skate spot. After two project proposals by other architects had already been turned down, artist and architect Apolonija Šušteršič was asked to develop a design for the new facility as part of the 2013 Emscherkunst exhibition.
The new locale was intended above all to meet the needs of young users and local residents. In a multi-stage process that started in 2011, parallel to the design for a new building Šušteršič also conceived a participatory programme. In a series of workshops and discussions children and young people from the neighbourhood, together with their parents, were incorporated into the planning, especially regarding the outdoor site. The penultimate stage of the conversion was a »Baucamp« (Building camp) involving children and young people during the period of the Emscherkunst exhibition. All the ideas that had been previously contributed and discussed were given expression with various artistic and handicraft techniques.

The result meets the diverse requirements for use and at the same time forms a single entity: the entire facility is screened from the residential area by a green hill-like earth mound. Housed within this hillock is a youth centre with a cafeteria section, recreational areas and a bike repair workshop. The clearly structured façade made up of concrete slabs snakes out towards the road and leads to a 600-sq.-m. skateboard park. Abutting the rear of the building is a recreation ground that echoes the nearby Emscher wastewater canal in the form of sections of canal pipe that can be played in and around, and are decorated with colourful stencilled graffiti.

The entire project PLAY_LAND was completed by late 2013 in collaboration with various specialists and companies.


Apolonija Šušteršič, Künstlerin und Architektin
Banz + Riecks Dipl.-Ing. Architekten BDA, Bochum
Christine Wolf, wbp Landschaftsarchitekten GmbH, Bochum
Dirk Wisnewski, Jugendtreff Holten
Stefan Breuer, Stadt Oberhausen, Spielplatz Holten
Elgar Blitz, Carve, Amsterdam

Beautiful from above: The works of art on the Emscherkunstweg can also be admired from the air.

Credits: Filmkonzept, Kamera, Drohne & Postproduktion: Gionik Media GmbH, Dirk Gion Opterix, Johannes Kassenberg; Musik & Sounddesign: Samuel Brözel 

Flugstrasse/ Ecke Bahnstrasse
46147 Oberhausen
Public transport

From Oberhausen Holten Bahnhof (train station) with bus 907 (towards Duisburg Godesberger Strasse), bus 954 (towards Oberhausen Sterkrade Bahnhof) or S90 (towards Oberhausen Holten Markt) to the stop Oberhausen Lützowstrasse, continue on foot against the movement direction for about 300 m.


Transfigured area, youth centre with skateboarding track and playground

The skate facility is used extensively. A youth meeting becomes a PLAY_LAND.

The green hill shields the playground towards the residential area. Canal pipes, which have been converted into game elements, are reminiscent of the Sewer Emscher in the immediate vicinity.

»The Holten location was very exciting for me due to its intensive use by various user groups and their interaction with the landscape and nature.«

Apolonija Šušteršič

Apolonija Šušteršič

Apolonija Šušteršič (*1965 in Ljubliana, SI) first studied architecture in Ljubliana, then completed a postgraduate programme at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. She subsequently took a doctoral degree at Lund University in Malmö, Sweden, since when she has held various lectureships. She currently lives and works in Oslo, Norway. In all her projects for public space a central aspect of her artistic strategy is the participatory dimension, as shown in her 2011 community pavilion on Brunnenplatz in the Hustadt district of Bochum.

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