EDUCATION  –  NATURAL PLAY  –  HOUSING

Forum was appointed by London Diocesan Board of Schools & Places for People Developments in two phases: firstly in 2005 – 8 when the whole school site was redeveloped and secondly in 2012-14, to design additional natural play features following the success of the playground landscape.

Landscape proposals were developed for Early Years and Key Stages 1 and 2 playgrounds attached to the new primary school development, which incorporates several levels of residential accommodation above (as an auto-financing scheme).

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The proposals created a unified site character, using a prominent band of native tree species along the south boundary, forming a ‘backdrop’ to the whole playground, within which. areas for different age groups and activities are integrated.

Emphasis is placed on achieving direct views from classrooms out to plants, creating maximum seasonal change and contact with the external environment, which is especially valuable to the children’s daily school experience in this densely developed area of London. Planting includes trees from each continent and also trees whose timber is used for musical instruments, such as maple.

Landscape proposals for Phase 2 were guided by the experience of teachers at the school and especially by their commitment to opportunities for learning and play involving water, sand, climbing and caring for the environment.

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Proposals create opportunities for children to explore contrasting qualities of water. Near to the classrooms, a flowform spring, sends water through sculpted bowls into a beautiful wet garden of irises and ferns. This offers bubbling water to touch, hear and see water as a source of life, energy, movement and sound. Smooth rock boulders surround a sand pit, which has surfaces in stone and timber, plus a water pump, where children enjoy pumping and carrying water for play, exploring water as activity and building for digging & mixing.

New planting with tall grasses and meadow perennials was established in amongst liquid amber trees, combined with timber walkways / seating, redefining the hard play area and offering opportunities for play and social spaces.

Team: Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects (Phase 1), Sawyer Fisher Project Manager, Forum landscape architects

Date: 2005 – 2008, 2012- 14

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