Camden has one of the worst obesity rates in London, with one in three 10 year olds in the borough being overweight or obese. The Camden Active Spaces project is an initiative to create spaces specifically to increase physical activity in seven schools across the borough. 

LUC were appointed to transform the playgrounds of two primary schools and one secondary school from dull, empty areas of tarmac into bespoke, exciting natural play spaces that encourage young people to become physically active through fun and playful interventions in the landscape. 

Consultation with pupils, teachers and parents informed each design. Features include trampolines
within the floorscape, bespoke climbing towers and trails, bespoke monkey bars, undulating living willow fences with “portholes” to encourage children to play chase and other interactive games, bespoke timber angled platforms to encourage running and parkour style activity, and outdoor gym equipment in areas screened with planting to encourage teenagers to feel comfortable exercising outside among their peers. 

UCL sports scientists have been monitoring students before and now for a year after installation of the schemes in a study to understand the drivers for physical activity. 

“As well as being physically active, the children have great opportunities to play together on different pieces of apparatus and build valuable social skills such as sharing, encouraging others, problem solving and perseverance.” Miss Jennifer O’Prey, Headteacher, St Dominic’s School.

Landscape architect: LUC

Credits as supplied: Developing Projects,Camden Council, Bowles and Wyer, Grassroots Play, Jim Buchanan, UCL, Camden Clinical Commissioning Group, Camden Public Health.