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Community Regeneration Project

A low cost upgrade to an empty playground

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Project Type

Landscape, Wellbeing, Play, Community


Harris Academy


East Dulwich, London, UK



Ruth Campbell & Co was asked to bring life to the patchof tarmac proposed for the constrained new playground at the scholls new site – with limited budget for change. As such we put forward a carefully considered strategic plan that could be implemented in phases over a number of academic years.

With input from both children and teaching staff, the brief was determined for the crucial areas of play space. Areas for different types of creative, natural and physical play were needed for children ranging in age from 4 to 11. We therefore needed to design spaces that could be flexible and engaging throughout a child’s life at school, and for different types of play to coexist. We initially set out a simple breakdown of the space to allow for a quieter side and a more active play side. These were separated by a ground painted play path to link the main gate to the school entrance. The active side of the playground allows for different types of movement-based play with a small multi-use games area (MUGA), climbing wall and climbing frame. The quieter space utilises some of the planting, small playhouses and growing beds to break down the space and allow key points of more gentle play. There is also a play trail between the trees to provide further interest.

Flexibility in such a small space was crucial, and as such, portable benches/planters were designed to allow for different configurations at different times. The benches can be lined up to allow people to watch the football or placed in pairs to encourage sociability. The timber benches, with planted pockets, utilise sensory planting to increase potential wildlife but also visual and sensory interest. The sterile setting needed vibrancy. As such a series of life size acrylic cut-outs were produced of the pupils carrying out their favourite activities or their favourite animals, plants and local parakeets. These were installed around the perimeter to enliven the very sterile fence before any planting was mature.

I’m text. To update me, go to the Data Manager.

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