The recently completed redevelopment of West Hampstead Emmanuel Primary School is the culmination of a long-held dream for many involved in the scheme.

Children's playspace at Cameden School
B:D Landscape Architects designs dynamic playspace for Camden school

B:D Landscape Architects designed ‘the educational and playable landscape’ element of the project, in collaboration with London-based architectural practice Hawkins/Brown.

The newly designed Emmanuel CE Primary School has doubled in size as a direct response to the need for extra primary school places in London.
B:D set out to enhance the ecological value of the site with new habitats and increased biodiversity tailored to the local biodiversity action plan.
Outdoor classrooms, productive ‘edible’ gardens and a colourful rainbow terraced ‘scoop’ amphitheatre, are the focus of the new external space.
The initial ideas for the grounds of the school, which dates back to 1845, were heavily influenced by consultations with teachers, pupils and the local community, says BD. Taking on board this engagement, it created ‘a unique split level playground that makes the most use of a constrained site for performance, play, sports and inclusive access’.
The upper playground level includes a multi-use games area and natural playscape for both school and community use, that links the grounds to the surrounding public open space and site of importance for nature conservation.
An edible playground with productive growing beds provides the school with an opportunity for outdoor learning as well as promoting sustainable living methods. A secret garden containing herbs and healing plants operates as an important sensory zone with interesting textures, smells and shapes. A wildlife butterfly garden is jointly run by the school and local open space community action group.
The lower playground level is linked with a rainbow inspired ‘scoop’ amphitheatre with bespoke designed seating elements and ‘a graphic ground plane that links to the wider open space planting palette’.
Enhancement of the neighbouring public open space was also completed in 2013 and includes a wildflower meadow, native woodland planting and a natural, dynamic ‘playscape’ located within the site of importance for nature conservation.


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