The school playground project

The winning design from Manorfield School for The Playground Project. © Atkins

The Playground Project encourages school students to think about landscape practice by exploring their school’s outdoor space with a member of the LI and redesigning their playground.

LI members volunteering for this school-based project take children through a series of workshops covering:

  • why landscape architecture matters
  • what landscape architects do
  • how to assess their own outside space and redesign it
  • methods of designing and creating a presentations board and a scale model
  • how to enter a design competition

Participating schools receive a budget for materials, access to relevant online resources and a guidance pack. The 2016 The Playground Project guidance pack (PDF, 0.4MB) details what is covered in the scheme.

Competition to design a school playground

The project ends with a design competition, with pupils submitting their new design for their play area.

These design ideas come out of the project sessions – so children’s ideas are at the heart of the competition. The winning school receives a cash prize to create their new playground.

The Playground Project launch

The Playground Project launched in London in 2016 and was sponsored by the Canary Wharf Group. Seven schools from the London borough of Tower Hamlets took part.

Pupil’s views were at the heart of the design process, and the schools held extra lessons on activities including:

  • model-making sessions
  • drawing bird’s-eye view plans
  • using technical language and landscape architecture symbols

Winners of The Playground Project 2016

School play area at Manorfield School in London
The existing play area at Manorfield school. © Atkins

Manorfield Primary School won the design competition and received £5,000 to help implement the school’s design for its outside space. The school’s year 4 class worked with Neil Hutchins of Atkins to identify a problem space in their playground and re-design it.

The judges praised Manorfield’s simple yet effective design to enhance the school site while providing a valuable learning resource for the children. The high level of collaboration between pupils and the landscape architect, they said, was central to the school’s winning design.

This project had a really positive effect on the class. The landscape architect who worked with us had a positive relationship with the children and they couldn’t wait for him to return on Wednesday afternoons.

Ailsa Lawson, year 4 teacher at Manorfield

You can see more detail in the Manorfield School presentation board (PDF, 0.5MB).

Highly commended schools

Two of the seven participating schools were highly commended. Judges praised Halley Primary School, who worked with John Goldwyn of WATG, for the way the whole school got involved and for its inclusive design.

Lansbury Lawrence Primary School, who worked with Hanna Salomonsson of Enfield Council, was also commended. The judges praised the high standards of curriculum delivery throughout the project, the improved teamwork between the children and the extremely creative design.

From playground to ambassadors for landscape

The participating LI members have been awarded ‘Ambassador for Landscape‘ in recognition of inspiring the students and raising the profile of the profession. Ambassadors are LI members who volunteer to promote landscape architecture through schools and educational activities.

Participating schoolLandscape architect involved
Cubitt Town Junior SchoolClaudia Ferrai of Atkins
Halley Primary SchoolJohn Goldwyn vice president of WATG
Harry Gosling Primary SchoolMark Stefan of Design with Nature
Lansbury Lawrence Primary SchoolHanna Salomonsson of Enfield Council
Manorfield Primary SchoolNeil Hutchins of Atkins
Stebon Primary SchoolEmma Reed of HLM Architects
William Davis Primary SchoolChristopher Moss of Earthenware Landscape Architects Ltd

Take part in the Playground Project

The project is aimed at upper KS2 pupils (year 5 and 6). Participating volunteers must be LI members.

Schools and LI members interested in joining the 2017 project should contact our Education Development Officer Poppy Smith: .