The neighbourhood play area at Wood Street, Waltham Forest, was in need of redevelopment, with tired equipment, uninspired landscaping and patchy safety surfacing. The space required a radical overhaul while making it work with the wider requirements for safe routes, public realm uses and the Wood Street Play Strategy. The playground was delivered as part of the Wood Street high street project funded by Waltham Forest Council and the GLA’s Outer London Fund.
Consultation supported the design for specific play areas for toddlers and older children, and there were calls for more adventurous and challenging equipment. East Architecture Landscape Urban Design managed the redevelopment and included a number of products from the Timberplay range to provide stimulating play opportunities, specifically with older children in mind.
Existing play equipment was identified for refurbishment and reuse. The reused elements were complemented by new equipment designed and chosen to ensure play opportunities for all age groups and accessibility. East selected products from Timberplay’s play range from Richter, to deliver heaps of play value. The Big See-saw Platform is perfect for large groups of children, and can also easily be used with children in wheelchairs at the same time as able-bodied children. Moreover, there is only a handful in use around the UK, so Wood Street has succeeded in picking a real stand out piece that will excite and surprise children. Playing with balance is also a key factor in a number of other pieces, a more traditional see-saw and the high energy Cross Scales. The Climbing Structure is created with generous timbers, unevenly placed for a challenging climbing experience for older children, all of these products are ideal for older children whereas the twin swing, small slide and small carousel have succeeded in reenergising the play provision for younger children.
East created a more playable space with the addition of resilient planting, which enhances the overall feel of the space and also provides essential shade for children. A bespoke play fence has introduced play opportunities to the boundary, with an outline inspired by the borough’s skyline silhouette, with holes and gaps to interact with and through, and climbing grips to traverse along. A hangout space for young people was designed with street furniture mutated into a platform, tiered seating and a chaise longue. The ball court itself recycled existing fences from the site with a layout configured to create openness and informal spatial relationships and access.