Client: English Martyrs Primary school, Southwark London
Landscape Design and Construction: Bartholomew Landscaping
Award: Winner of a British Association of Landscape Industries Principal award for Hard Landscape Construction up to 300K and the Special award for best Design and build project
The starting point
The head teacher of English Martyrs School appointed Bartholomew Landscaping as design and build contractors. The existing playground was a typically dull space with wall to wall tarmac, high walls and a derelict toilet block. The brief was to create a playground with a wow factor that would be something that she and the school could be proud of.
With this in mind we prepared an initial sketch design that was presented to teachers for their feedback, We then invited the children to give us their ideas the main ones being the wish for a tree house and slide these were incorporated into the final design and Bartholomew Landscaping then prepared a 3D model that was presented to the children in the form of a fly through movie on the giant screen during a special assembly. The reaction of the children was overwhelming and the designers had to stop their presentation and just let the movie do the talking. Work started on the play ground a couple of weeks later. Bartholomew Landscaping carefully demolished the toilet block and fenced of the areas during the works so that the school could maintain access across the site safely and operate normally at all times.
The Design Elements
Throughout the playground we introduced paving in brick, natural stone, coloured safety surfacing and resin bound gravel in contrasting colours. The different textures provide immediate interest. Paths were laid to meander throughout the playground linking the various spaces and so encourage flowing movement and imaginative play. Using these techniques to define key areas we were able to create a range of spaces for both active play and quieter areas for social interaction and study. In the centre of the playground a raised deck and play house has been located around existing trees and a large grass covered mound using waist material from the excavations has a tunnel running through it with viewing dome in the centre.
We included a lot of natural products and materials. An amphitheatre for summer classes was constructed using timber log rounds infilled with safety surfacing. Leading on from this is a new meadow lawn area and ecological planting was created, a pond with ornate bridge and study deck have been included to encourage as much wildlife as possible. Raised planting beds with planting and digging space were located around a new green house that was positioned against to boundary wall. Encouraging pupils to plant their own areas through the use of educational planting beds has proved a great success. A wooden pavilion with bespoke seating was built against the high boundary wall to provide shelter and additional out door teaching space.
At one End of the playground, the new elements were separated of from the main activity area by a castleated fence and log beds that have been planted with silver birch and a selection of flowering and fragrant shrubs. Space has also been allowed within these beds for educational planting that the children can take part in.
All of the works undertaken within the playground are in accordance with BS EN 1176 and 1177.