The Groundwork playscape exhibit, in partnership with Play England, fought off stiff competition to win a prestigious Gold Award at this week's Hampton Court Flower Show. The exhibit, which demonstrates an innovative approach to designing local play spaces, was highly praised for its originality and the enthusiasm of all the team involved. It was also praised for the fantastic public response, who were said to love the idea of this genuinely playable landscape.
Success was even sweeter as Groundwork playscape's designers, Adam White and Andrée Davies, were exhibiting at Hampton Court for the first-time. Gold Award's for first-time designers are exceptionally rare - and particularly for landscape architects competing against garden designers. Adam was elated, saying:
This is fantastic evidence that with imagination and creativity, you can reclaim outdoor space to benefit children and the community. To create quality play space, children's needs must be considered in the design process. Challenging and inspiring spaces such as Groundwork playscape, offer an innovative and achievable solution that can be easily transferred to neighbourhoods across the country.'
This innovative approach to designing play spaces returns to simple pleasures to produce areas that inspire creativity. Remember how a fallen tree trunk could provide hours of entertainment, a sprinkling of snow endless fun? This concept builds on these ideas to produce spaces for all ages that encourage engagement with the natural surroundings and the taking of acceptable risks.
Grassy mounds, timber decking, trees, water, bridges and boulders complemented by modern commercial play equipment produce exciting, challenging spaces. Planting is playful - chestnut trees for conkers, daisy lawns for making daisy chains and willow for weaving. Collecting plant parts, climbing and playing in trees, hide-and-seek games and general exploration are just some of the ways in which plants and the landscape are being used to stimulate creativity and imagination in children. Equipment used is in natural colours and boundaries are unconventional and suggested - banks and timber walls - making the space feel part of the wider environment and encouraging access for all.
This approach to designing play spaces is rapidly becoming a national campaign, which can only be spurred on by this week's success at Hampton Court. Local authorities, housing associations, developers and regeneration experts are being encouraged to provide facilities that help children to be active and creative, taking appropriate risks to learn their boundaries and valuable lifelong lessons. A new kind of playscape' is being conceptualised, designed to have a low impact on the surrounding environment while providing the excitement, stimulation and challenge that young people increasingly lack.
Groundwork is currently seeking funding to relocate the entire exhibit from Hampton Court to a run-down community park in West London after the show.For further information contact Ben Levinson at Groundwork: or 020 7960 2678.
Groundwork supports communities in need, working with partners to help improve the quality of people's lives, their prospects and potential and the places where they live, work and play.
Our vision is of a society of sustainable communities which are vibrant, healthy and safe, which respect the local and global environment and where individuals and enterprise prosper.
Play England promotes excellent free play opportunities for all children and young people. Play England provides advice and support to promote good practice, and works to ensure that the importance of play is recognised by policy makers, planners and the public.
Play England is a project of the Children's Play Council, part of the National Children's Bureau, and is supported by the Big Lottery Fund. For further information visit www.playengland.org.uk
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