We first met Peter Hannes in 1988 as a student of architecture and urban planning at Stuttgart University. Through the successful redesign of an “active playground”, assisted by children and parents, he was already able to gather valuable experience for his later professional activities.
His criticism of the uninspired equipment in children’s playgrounds led him to hold seminars for youth centre workers on building their own playground equipment. After this he began to plan his first “classic” playgrounds during semester jobs working in landscape architecture offices until he finally began to design his own play structures and realise them with the help of municipal workers, parents and children.
After completing his studies, Peter Hannes was offered a teaching position by Professor Kroner on the subject of “play architecture” in the school building faculty at the Stuttgart University. At the same time he founded his own architectural office in Esslingen. He was commissioned with both small projects from the local municipalities for integrated play concepts with the possibility of citizen participation and larger play planning such as for the Internationale Gartenschau (international garden show) in Stuttgart, the boat harbour in Lausanne and the Bundesgartenschau (federal garden show) in Gelsenkirchen.
From 1994 onwards, Peter Hannes ─ married to a Frenchwoman and the father of two boys ─ lived in France, close to Grenoble. From there, he continued his theme of play architecture in collaboration with the Richter company.
He died in April 1997 at the age of 37 years as the result of a paragliding accident.
"We appreciate and support the pedagogical concept of active playgrounds and youth farms of counteracting an environment hostile to children by means of a realistically oriented 'emergency aid programme' whose objective is to motivate children to 'play actively' (within the scope of public youth work).
In the spirit of the basic idea of 'active playing' we want to motivate children to actively assist in designing their own playgrounds. Moreover we seek close cooperation with the playground operators, the interested parents and the city.
Our principle objective is not just to design but also to be true to the hopes of the children in realising the joint idea. In order to be able to implement the design later, we take into consideration already in the planning phase a simple construction using cheap materials (wood which is already there, logs, scrap, construction waste...).
Meaningful planning for and with children is only possible if it is carried out where children are, which means: planning on site.”