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Daubeney Primary School

Design Proposals - Development of the Design for Daubeney Primary School’s Playground

“We wanted to create a multi-layered space which was challenging for the children, stretching their understanding, reading and experience of their familiar environment and enhancing the dynamic qualities of outdoor space such as light, colour, movement and time.” Lynn Kinnear and Hattie Coppard

In considering the brief Lynn Kinnear was particularly interested in the function of the whole space and the relations between different territories. She was keen to capitalise on the essential openness of the traditional school playground and – without use of physical barriers - to find ways of defining distinct spaces or zones within it. She advocated the benefits of high quality and durable materials, warning against the cheap-and-cheerful solutions so often applied to school grounds.

Hattie Coppard’s focus was to create a space in which structure would enable the children to feel comfortable, safe and encourage co-operative play. The flexibility of the modular system used in the Experimental Week had been a success and she wanted to retain an openness and flexibility in the design, avoiding over-designing the children’s space in a way that might limit imagination.

While Lynn Kinnear addressed the design of the whole: the placing of elements; the articulation of different levels; the opening up of vistas from one level to another, and the introduction of colour and texture to the overall surface, Hattie Coppard worked closely on the detail of particular aspects of the plan such as ‘The Forest of Poles’ and the modular platforms.

“On a detailed level we wanted to create things that are fun and interactive and that change or are dynamic. Linking the Junior and Infants playground is important so that the big playground is not so hidden and secret and scary. Making a place in the playground where you can be higher than every one else is exciting and leads to creative play focussed around this element. Using light in dark spaces and using reflective surfaces that bring light into dark spaces changes the role that the shelter has from dark damp and unwelcoming to a place where kids genuinely want to spend time.” Lynn Kinnear

A Summary of the Design Proposal

A dedicated space for ball games:

The issue of football dominating the playground was identified as a problem and early in the consultation and design work the school took the decision to screen off an area for ball-games. This preliminary work was undertaken by the school using existing budgets and was not detailed by the design team. The high wire fence of the games area was later proposed as a site for temporary texts painted onto the wire mesh.

Painted Pathways:

Broad lines and zebra-stripes of pink will stride over the surface of the ground, creating pathways, running tracks and dividing up the space into bands which flow over the contours of the ground and change the existing orientation of the area. These floor markings seek to interrupt or to alter the existing flow of movement and create suggested territories.

A look out post:

A raised level or lookout post has been introduced into the landscape. A reflective steel surface at the rear of the look-out post will create a mirrored surface and a possible surface for magnetic text/poetry games. The surface will reflect the zebra crossing making it look longerand will visually open up this boundary of the playground.

Moving Garden Islands:

Stainless steel kidney shaped planters will sit on top of the coloured surface of the ground creating islands of greenery, which can be placed singly or in groups to create larger green spaces. The planters are designed to be flexible and can be moved around on wheels. When placed together the planters create a garden with spaces in between. The planting of these structures will be linked to class work and to projects such as the Healthy Schools Initiative.

A Forest of Poles:

In one corner of the playground a forest or grid of steel poles is installed, reminiscent of poles of garden washing lines. The grid can be transformed into a range of configurations by hooking textile screens between the poles. The structure offers a site for imaginative play and for hide-and-seek, dens, ball games etc. The grid extends further over the playground with a grid of spots painted onto the ground.

A Place to Sit and to Watch:

Alongside, defining one edge of the playground, is a long timber bench incorporating storage for the screens and fixings, providing a place to sit and to watch, and creating a natural extension to the poles structure.

Rotating Platforms:

A series of platforms on which children can dance and perform, play games or sit quietly and chat. The platforms will be engineered to rotate easily but safely. Children working together can move them into various configurations, creating separate 'islands' of different shapes, or join them together to make one communal star where a whole class can sit simultaneously. The platforms will be covered in a non-slip rubberised surface to make them comfortable to sit or lie on.

Shelter with Windows and Light:

A dark shelter in the playground will be transformed using light and windows. Openings are cut out of the back of the shelter to create long thin windows opening onto the Infants area and thus visually connecting the two spaces. A long stainless steel magnetic surface appears to extend the line of the window and sets up opportunities for the creation of long lines of poetry or text with steel letters. Because of the different levels of the two playgrounds these windows are at feet /ground level on the Infants side and at eye level on the Juniors side.

Illuminated Boulder Seats:

A grid of lights sits within the shelter’s floor surface. Transparent orange resin boulders can be rolled over and when placed over a ground light become illuminated. The boulders can be grouped to become sitting places for a chat with a friend or to play leap-frog over. The grid of lights also reflect in the stainless steel surfaces fixed to the wall.