An exhilarating play space on a highly constrained rooftop site provides children of all abilities opportunities for discovery and challenge.
|Type||Education & Play|
|Location||Barbican, London Borough of Islington|
|Scale||0.66 ha (6,600 sqm)
Playground for central London school including podium play area
|Client||London Borough of Islington|
|Partners||Nicholas Hare Architects|
|Awards||BCSE Inspiring Design Award 2009|
Existing site at Golden Lane.
To Create an Inclusive Playscape
The vision was to create a playable landscape for pupils of differing abilities from three schools, including the Richard Cloudesley School for children and young people with physical disabilities and additional sensory needs.
An Outdoor Learning Environment
The space successfully integrates creativity and social development for children of all ages and abilities.
Maximising Play Space in a Dense Urban Area
Every component of the building has been utilised to its maximum potential, with roofs, ventilation shafts and walls each contributing to a multitude of play possibilities. The landscape and rooftop is a complete playscape that creates a safe haven for children above the hubbub of the street.
A series of flexible spaces encourage imaginative play, rather than prescribing activity by equipment or design. Bubbles of colour on the ground surface can be used as zones for tag, jumping or balancing. Moveable elements can be dragged around so that children can make up their own games. Walls, totems and structures for climbing create a more physically challenging environment than stretches of flat tarmac or grass. Sensory stimulation and opportunities for interacting with nature are integrated throughout.
For All Needs and Abilities
The scheme is empathic to the needs of all children, acknowledging their many differences. The team worked with wheelchair users to create landscapes that would tilt and jolt their chairs, making them laugh and react. The use of undulating rubber surfacing provides insulation that preserves body temperatures, allowing children more time out of their wheelchairs.
Technical Collaboration for Innovation
The distinctive play offer across the roofscape and courtyards was made possible by collaboration and understanding across the design team. Working together we created a genuinely flat outdoor surface at first floor level. Children feel they are playing in a landscape on the ground, forgetting they are actually on a roof.
Integration into the Wider Public Realm
Pedestrians access the school directly from Fortune Park. Children can now play before and after school with a seamless transition between the school and park.