Client: Gateway Primary school Reception and Nursery Playgrounds, Westminster London
Landscape Design and Construction: Bartholomew Landscaping
Award: Winner of a British association of Landscape Industries principal award for Community and Schools Development and the special award for best design and build project.
The starting point
The head teacher of Gateway School, Louisa Lochner, first appointed Bartholomew Landscaping as design and build contractors in 2009 and phase 1 of the project was completed in 2010. In 2011 we were invited back to look at installing a sustainability classroom in place of a derelict toilet block and revitalising the playgrounds of the Reception and Nursery classes. The existing playground was a typically dull space with wall to wall tarmac, and soft surfacing high walls. Mrs. Lochner’s brief was to create playgrounds that are inspirational, with a wow factor that would be something that she and the school could be proud of.
With this in mind Bartholomew Landscaping prepared a brief and initial sketch design that was presented to the school in the form of 3D models and fly through movies.
The school were extremely excited by the proposals and work started on the play ground a few weeks later. Bartholomew Landscaping carefully fenced of the areas of construction during the works so that the school could maintain access across the site safely and operate normally at all times. The majority of the works with the exception of the demolitions were undertaken during term time it was felt that it was important that the children could see the work in progress and understand what is involved in building things. The children were able to watch progress from the safety of their class rooms and from behind transparent fencing. Bartholomew landscaping employees were introduced to the pupils and talked to them about the project.
Throughout the playground we introduced paving in brick, cobbles, 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.
The boundary wall of the playground was chosen as the location for a raised deck and play house and a faux 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 stage was positioned in each playground. Raised planting beds with planting and digging space were located around some existing planting. Encouraging pupils to plant their own areas through the use of educational planting beds has proved a great success. An existing shelter was adapted to include a bespoke counter / work bench with a retractable canopy over small seating areas were located around the gardens to encourage quiet interaction.