Asif Khan has designed an elevated playground for Chisenhale Primary School in Bow, East London, which has just completed construction and is the first part of the school’s long-term masterplan.
Khan, who has two children at the school, approached the American Hardwood Export Council and AKT II structural engineers to collaborate with him on the project while the active parent body at the school managed to raise funds through fetes and other events held throughout the year.
The challenging brief required an increase in the play area of this inner city primary school to match the expanded pupil population, without reducing the space required by the P.E curriculum. The design adds a double-layered play space to the edge of the existing playground, a soft landscape beneath 2.2 metre elevated deck, connected by a hill and two slides.
Asif Khan says: “We designed an inside and outside space where the kids can invent their own play. This terrain is composed of two elements – a soft rubber landscape culminating in a steep hill and an elevated semi-enclosed timber space.
The slides and rope nets bridge the vertical. The plan stimulates the kids to move, but also create quiet spaces where they can rest. In this simple structure we’ve seen so much variety of play created by the children.”
The children at Chisenhale were consulted on the design of the space over a six-month period and had specific ideas they communicated to the architects. The kids wanted places to run and climb, places to hide and somewhere to rest and chat to friends.
Asif Khan says: “We were keen on using timber to provide a friendly layer of texture. The structure is designed to be adaptable and will grow and evolve over time.” Head Teacher Helen James says: “This is such an exciting place to be for the children. In terms of material the wood fits in so much with what we do at the school with education about being environmentally responsible.”
The structure is built from thermally modified tulipwood slatted panels with a deck structure of thermally modified ash. It will go through a cradle-to-grave Life Cycle Assessment and this will be used as a learning opportunity as part of the school’s curriculum. Source by Asif Khan.
Location: Chisenhale Primary School, East London, UK
Architect: Asif Khan
Structural Engineer: AKT II
Contractor: Aldworth James and Bond, Duncan & Grove, M&M architectural
Funding: Asif Khan, American Hardwood Export Council AHEC, AKT II Structural Engineers, The Worshipful Company of Weavers, Chisenhale Parent Teachers Association, The pupils, parents and teachers of Chisenhale Primary School
Client: Chisenhale Primary School
Elevated Floor Area: 35sqm
Photographs: Hélène Binet, Courtesy of Asif Khan