Forget Boring Old Swings and Roundabouts!
18 Dec 2007
Adam White and AndrÈe Davies’ project ‘Playscape’ returns simple pleasures, encouraging engagement with natural surroundings and taking acceptable levels of risk.
Attention: This article has been imported from our old websiteWhile we've taken every precaution to ensure that the content of this article remains intact, it may contain errors.
‘Remember how a fallen tree trunk could provide hours of entertainment, a sprinkling of snow endless fun?’ ask playground co-designers, Adam White and AndrÈe Davies. ‘Playscape returns to these simple pleasures, encouraging engagement with natural surroundings and taking acceptable levels of risk.’
Groundwork Playscape had a hugely successful time at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show this year. They won both a prestigious Gold Award and the BBC People’s Award for innovative playground design.
Co-designer Adam White has worked for the environment charity Groundwork for nine years. He is the Principal Landscape Architect with Groundwork West London, one of 50 Trusts operating in the UK. He is also a Civic Trust Judge, awarding Green Flag status to deserving recreational spaces.
Over the past 12 months, Adam pioneered the Playscape approach to play area design. It began, he says, with just a scribble on a beer mat. Sketches, plasticine models, sections and 3D computer-aided graphics soon followed and finally, a life-size layout was set up in a sponsor’s warehouse.
The judges of the BBC RHS People’s Award praised the Play-scape’ concept for its originality and the enthusiasm of the team. They were also impressed with all the general public’s positive feedback.
The Playscape garden includes a landform sculpted into a network of small spaces and alluring tunnels. A climbing area nestles between two large meadowgrass and turf-covered earth mounds. It comprises poles and nets, aimed at all ages, from tiny toddlers to teenagers to grandparents. There is a structure that moves water uphill and a series of climbing boulders for sitting on or jumping off or for hiding between.
Specific plants have been chosen to encourage a peaceful feel and a positive ambiance through their mix of sun, shade, colour, texture, fragrance, size and softness. There are chestnut trees for collecting conkers, buttercups to check on butter preference, daisies for making chains and dandelions for blowing wishes into the wind.
‘Playscape aims to emphasize how the total environment can have play value and not just a corner of the park or garden,’ says Adam. ‘Think grassy mounds, innovative planting, decking, trees, water, bridges and boulders, complemented by modern, well-designed play equipment and you’ve got an exciting and challenging space to play with unlimited imagination.
‘The joy of designing landscapes, particularly public ones,’ he says, ‘is you never know who the end user might be ñ children, teenagers, families, pensioners, office workers, joggers and dog walkers. The rich diversity of our public spaces makes designing them challenging and really exciting.’
The entire Playscape project is now lined up to be relocated to its final home, a rundown play space in the London Borough of Ealing. For this task, Playscape, along with other contractors, is using the services of its own Groundwork West London Green Team, who provide long-term unemployed people with the opportunity to get training and be part of regeneration projects in their local area.
Last year Groundwork in London supported over 1,000 projects, actively involved more than 100,000 people, improved over 220 hectares of land, maintained an area equivalent in size to Monaco and planted 20,000 trees
Photo: © Groundwork Playscape
If you enjoyed this article, please consider making a donation
Donating helps us keep reporting on positive news