Fairlop Waters Natural Playground, FoRM Associates, Redbridge, London, 2010

Given a generous 4 hectare footprint within a country park, London based FoRM Associates,  in collaboration with the artists Olivia Fink and Stephen Shiell, created a series of linked natural play experiences that appear like playful glades in the surrounding vegetation.   They’re nicely localized through both materials and allusions:  the ‘ant hills’ utilize excess excavation material and refer to a yellow ant species in the area.

The shapes of series of permanent play/climbing dens loosely reflect Fairlop Waters’ history as a boating lake, and they complement opportunities for self-built dens that exist on the site as well.  I like that a child could take inspiration for their own self-built den from the way the permanent structures are put together.

Brightly painted cuts on the felled wood are an interesting visual addition to the typical natural playground ‘stumpscape’, as are a series of tuned bells in towers whose sound carries between the play zones.  And it’s refreshing to see this playscape with only grass and dirt on the ground plane..no rubber safety surfacing in sight!

[all images via FoRM Associates.  I was pleased to see that this playground was featured in a Chinese Landscape Architecture magazine–pdf here–because play provision in China is generally quite poor.  As far as I know the playscapes blog (like all blogger blogs) is still blocked in China.]


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