Children to play behind ‘Berlin Wall’

Children to play behind 'Berlin Wall'
The wall going up around the play area. Photo: DPA
Developers of a luxury housing complex in Berlin are building a five-metre-high concrete wall around a play park to shield future residents from the sound of children. The construction of the barrier, which is taller than the wall which once divided the city, is causing controversy.

Three soundproof walls will surround sports facilities used by a day care centre and youth organization in the southern Berlin neighbourhood of Dahlem. 

The measure was taken to shield future residents of the luxury development "Fünf Morgen", currently being built across the street on the site of the former Truman Plaza, Tagesspiegel newspaper reported last Wednesday.

Developer Stofanel is building 100 villas and apartments as well as cafes and shops in the area. Its website boasts of the peace and quiet future residents can expect.

The decision by the luxury investor to build fortified walls has generated criticism from politicians and community leaders.

Anne Pallada manager of the Kinderhaus Tom Sawyer day care centre whose children use the recreation facilities, is a staunch opponent of the project.

"The Berlin Wall wasn’t even that high" she told Tagespiegel.

Pallada said that one wall was initially agreed upon, but another had been erected without adequate discussion. According to Pallada, the developer had promised to allow the children to have a say in the wall's design during initial discussions between the two parties. "Then we didn't hear anything more about it," she told the paper.

But Steglitz-Zehlendorf city councilman Norbert Schmidt (CDU) defended the decision to build the walls, citing them as a preventative measure against future noise complaints. Such complaints may not only be against children, but also the noise generated from skateboards.

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“The wall would not win any prizes for its architecture, but it is a proven measure,” said Schmidt.

Brigitte Schulte-Fortkamp, a professor on noise effects at the Technical University in Berlin, sees things differently.

“A five-metre high wall is absurd, it is a social barrier,” she said.

The construction company has used cranes to put towering beams in place. The initial framework of the concrete walls will line Marshallstrasse and Tom-Sawyer-Weg.

Some 110 children and teenagers use the outdoor play area of the neighbourhood-funded Marshall Youth Recreation Facilities between the hours of 3pm and 8pm. Some of the facilities have been partially dismantled due to the construction of the walls. Ramps used by mountain bikers have had to be removed completely.

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