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Transforming Play: The Elms

Inspirational play design for Trent College

We were invited by Trent College to update the play spaces for The Elms Key Stage 1 and 2 students. The project is intended to transform the current playground. Our response was to develop a dynamic, interactive, and bold external play encounter and promote a design that empowers children to take control and direct their own play.

Understanding the space from a child’s perspective contributed to the success of the design.

The play areas were separated into six zones. This created a variety of experience and also enabled phased delivery. Our guiding principle throughout the design process was to conceive spaces that blend outdoor play with the school curriculum. In harnessing the unique benefits of nature, we were able to provide children with essential developmental and physical experiences that can’t be had indoors.

Natural-material structures to promote explorative play and echo the woodland concept.

Inspired by the structure of forest ecosystems, our design identified three distinct woodland typologies – the glade, the woodland edge, and the woodland itself. Each of these typologies represented different aspects of play: energetic movement, social interactions, and sensory learning. The result is a transformative space that promotes diverse play for children of all ages and abilities.

Phase 1 is now complete.

Phase 1 has been completed and is proving enormously successful. The school wrote:

“Alongside the huge fun and excitement, we have already seen wider benefits. Rich vocabulary is being used during their play and creative ideas are in abundance as the children explore each of the areas.”

We believe that outdoor play is not just a source of entertainment but also a vital component of child development. We are proud to have created a play space that is not only visually stunning but also encourages children to explore, learn, and have fun in the outdoors.

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