School Playground

for Colvestone Primary School

The phased redevelopment of a primary school playground in East London


To create a sketch masterplan to support the long term redevelopment of a primary school playground to be delivered in phases as funds become available.

When we started the project, the playground was predominantly covered by an uneven concrete surface which presented safety issues for the school, as well as being a deeply un-inspirational space.

The reconfiguration aims to make the playground safer and more coherent in an economical way, and to respect the heritage value of the listed school building.

The starting point for developing the brief was the Pupils' Brief and the design is centred around facilitating different forms of stimulating play. Parents and Governors were also consulted.


We were inspired by the children's book 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' by Michael Rosen to create a series of connected zones so the students could use their imagination to create their own journey and stories.

The sequence of zones aim to encourage social, sensory and physical play. The masterplan aims to make the most of the limited available space and to use the existing trees as focal points. Natural, low maintenance materials, complementary to the existing listed building, were chosen.


The design enables the playground to be progressively improved over a number of phases. It also reconfigures the playground entrance so it is more secure and segregates vehicles and pedestrians.

The design is focused around new and existing trees, and accommodates the large root protection zones of the existing trees, including two fine London Planes with large protected areas.

The first phases establish the zones using a range of different ground surface finishes. The materials used are high quality and sympathetic to the listed host building (the Planners requested no primary colours), and include resin bound gravel in differing colours, bark chippings, macadam for ball games, timber decking and brick paviours. There will also be areas of planting and wildflowers.

The zones are: the Learning Zone, the Creative Zone, the Nature Zone, the Mindful Zone, and the Active Zone.

The first phases of the design enable later installation of planting, play equipment and - one day - a treehouse.

Location: Hackney, London E8
Client: Colvestone Primary School
Role: Architect


Quantity Surveyors: PCP Surveyors Ltd
Contractor: Play Cubed