At The Experimental Playground, Ya know

Most playgrounds suck. They're either too big or too small, too hard or too easy, and almost always grow out of nowhere in the middle of some lot or former corn field with no consideration of the surrounding environment. There are a few exceptions, of course, like the Isamu Noguchi-designed Playscapes in Atlanta's Piedmont Park, and Robert Royston's clever Mitchell Park playspace in Palo Alto. But, unfortunately, most are not designed. They are ordered from catalogs. Not so with the Daubeney School's playground in London.

For one week during March 2000 the grounds at Daubeney School were transformed into The Experimental Playground Project giving all 485 pupils a chance to try out ideas and experiment with the shape and dynamics of their everyday environment. What was learned in one week of observation and play led to the complete design and construction of The Experimental Playground, which includes an abstract zebra/highway/dazzle pattern of playground markings; a mound and look-out post; a steel mirror wall; a forest of poles, rotating platforms and moving islands; an extra long wooden bench and storage; a shelter with windows, steel mirror, lights in the floor, orange boulders.

Designed by artist Hattie Coppard (Snug and Outdoor) with Kinnear Landscape Architects and project architect Jake Ford. London, 2000–03. Part of the Hackney Wick Public Art Programme.



All photos from Snug & Outdooor.


  1. this project is AMAZING!!!! I am sooo happy you have shared this... i work at a reggio school and i am trying to get the school to create a similar experience. i am currently working on a project that involves children (2-6) designing their own playground. they have come up with some ingenius play structures and parents are coming in to help build them! i will defintely share this project with them! thanks so much!

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