Designing play areas where learning is inevitable

LUC and erect architecture were asked to deliver a brand new “play, leisure and learning experience of international renown” in the northern Olympic Park in Stratford. The scheme had a complex web of stakeholders, clients, multi-tiered statutory consultees and its own Games planning authority.

We designed an expansive playscape delivering innovative and challenging play experiences for all ages. Our inspiration was ecological processes, linking into the surrounding riverine landscape. The undulating topography envelops the popular new café and multi-functional community hub.

The BREEAM Excellent-rated Tumbling Bay progresses through a series of character areas: a hazel copse and birch pioneer woodland encouraging den-making and play-trails; a sand and water area inspired by the history of the River Lee, where children can become water engineers; and climax woodland – the challenging Scots Pine area with climbing nets, organic treetop pods and connecting bridges.

Visitor numbers quickly exceeded those initially anticipated, and the scheme is bringing people into the park in advance of the creation of the surrounding neighbourhoods, providing future local residents, national and international visitors, with a well-loved, exciting place to play.

When it opened, this project won several awards, a Civic Trust Award; the Civic Trust Selwyn Goldsmith Award for Universal design; best ‘Public Space’ at the New London Awards; and the ‘Small scale public development’ category at the Landscape Institute Awards.

“Getting the park designed and built within the timeframe to a design and standard that we can all be proud of is a fantastic achievement. It is a significant asset that has been added to the Park.”

Jessica Gavaghan, LLDC, Project Sponsor

For inspiring, stimulating playscape design – with environmentally friendly credentials – please contact Jennette Emery-Wallis.