A new urban oasis for school children in London combines sustainable design with holistic learning. Foster + Partners completed the Ashburnham School Playground in partnership with The Bryan Adams Foundation and playground designers Made From Scratch. The playground brings nature into the city with a variety of natural environments, from the beach sandpit to a bamboo grove, and also integrates rainwater collection.
Providing environments for play is especially important in cities, where concrete tends to dominate the landscape. In place of Ashburnham School Playground’s existing asphalt play areas, Foster + Partners added a mix of hard and soft natural surfaces, emphasizing multi-sensory stimulation through a varied environment with landscaping that is low maintenance but provides seasonal variety throughout the year. The plantings were also selected to counteract air and noise pollution.
Among the highlights of the new playground is a handcrafted timber treehouse built into the school’s largest tree, and the main climbing structure, over four meters tall, that takes inspiration from a dense jungle landscape with its tangle of logs, balance beams, rope bridges, nets, and green climbing vines. The refurbished playground also includes a beach sandpit flanked by boulders and untreated timber, custom-built steel and timber troughs that hold collected rainwater, a nest swing nestled in a bamboo grove, a living willow pod, sports pitches and a landscaped amphitheater.
Images via Aaron Hargreaves / Foster + Partners and Ashburnham Community School