Kennington Playscape

Hyde Housing & Kennington Park Estate Residents Association

About the Project

The brief for this project was to provide a unique play experience to augment the existing traditional play equipment on an estate in Kennington, which was identified by residents. With designs developing and altering as children interacted with the pieces, changed their shapes / scale and explored how they could be used, we began to co-design a unique sculptural playground.


12 months from start of engagement to final installation of built work. (including planning application).

7 full day weekly residencies from July – September 2009 to co-design a solution and prototype it at full scale.

Bi-monthly design reviews from October 2009 – May 2010.

Installation over 3 days in June 2010 followed by an opening celebration.

Our Tools & Approach

We used the ground as a surface for inviting children to come along and engage with us. This big chalk spectacle immediately got children interested in what we were doing so we could then ask them to tell us about their area and start to draw and model ideas. With designs developing and altering as other children interacted with the pieces, changed their shapes / scale and explored how they could be used, we began to co-design a unique sculptural playground.

This space was overlooked by four 5 storey residential buildings and we felt that by being outside, being public would allow us to build the greatest awareness of the project amongst children and parents alike. We spent a day a week over the 7 week summer holiday on site using rigid cardboard, string, plasticine and an array of craft papers to build ideas at full scale and as models. By consistently spending time on site we built a broad audience and designs were adapted and changed as children came in and appropriated the space in new and unexpected ways.

It was a 7 week long design development that produced a scheme we would never have imagined alone; features such as the diagonal metal hurdles were created to allow a scooter or bike to slalom in between them as we noticed that children kept coming into the space and negotiating their way around temporary designs that other children had created. This approach also allowed parents to witness their children playing in ways and with things that they had not previously imagined, allowing the process to expand preconceived ideas of what good play is.

We produced planning ready information and successfully gained planning approval for the scheme. We co-ordinated the production of the sculptures using three specialist fabricators working in timber, concrete and metal and the scheme was installed over a three day period.

During the gap between engagement and installation we held bi-monthly updates either on site or digitally to keep the project momentum going.

We co-ordinated an exciting opening for the space, demonstrating all the ways that sculptural playscapes could be used and to our delight new ideas were also demonstrated as people arrived and began to take ownership of the space.

The final concept was to create a sculptural assault course which is everything and nothing at the same time. The sculptures fuel imagination, are an active assault course and provide informal seating for children and young people to relax and socialise.