At St Anthony’s, the brief for the expanding school included a new block of classrooms and extensive refurbishment of the old buildings. Around half of the playground had to be remodelled to suit the new layout, and the remit was to maximise the usable space on a limited budget.
A long path to the front door, which is out of sight of the gate, meant that many visitors had difficulty finding reception. A trail of colourful stencilled leaves now mark the route, leading under an archway and into the new courtyard.
Beneath the arch was an area of limited head height, inadequate for adults. Instead of fencing it off for safety reasons, a sculpted, rubber-surfaced mound was used to create a popular play feature for children whilst keeping grown-up pedestrians away. The mound has an abstract leaf pattern that extends the forest-themed cladding, developed with the project artist and the school.
The early years playground was very steep and thus only a small proportion of it was regularly used. By using no-dig construction methods under existing trees, and adding sloping areas of bound-rubber shred, we were able to greatly increase the level area and ensure that the entire space is used for play and education.
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–with: Architype Architects for: Archdiocese of Southwark completed: 2013