Upgrade of a way to school with animal sculptures in Zurich

  • Posted on: 22 August 2017
  • By: Barbara Kieser

Short Summary

The neighbourhood “Manessequartier” in Zurich lacked child-friendly open spaces on the way to school. The municipality decided to create a network of wooden animal sculptures to offer children orientation and places to meet on their way to school.


An analysis of the use of public space by children showed that the neighbourhood “Manessequartier” lacked child-friendly green spaces and playing fields. Two busy streets prevent the children from reaching a close-by sports pitch with an adjacent playground and constrain the safe mobility of children in the entire neighbourhood. The civil engineering department of the city of Zurich therefore launched a project to upgrade the way to school and the way to the sports pitch in a child-friendly way.

Transformational Measures and Activities

The idea of the project was to create small open and public spaces along the routes of children. These spaces should build a network of “safe” spots along which children can orientate themselves and where they can meet. On the identified ten spots, the city placed oversize wooden animal sculptures. Six school classes from the public and the Jewish school designed the models of the animals that then were crafted from wood accordingly. After the sculptures were put in place, the children painted them.

The animals were put in place so that they have “eye contact” to each other, thereby strengthening the idea of the network. The animals can be climbed upon and offer space to sit and talk.


The feedback of the neighbourhood’s children was overwhelmingly positive. The animals are very popular. A thorough analysis of the project will be done in 2019.

Challenges, Opportunities and Transferability

The participation of the children in designing the animals and painting them created a feeling of ownership. The participation of children from the public and the Jewish school brought together children that otherwise hardly meet.