Earlier this month was Children’s Mental Health Week (CMHW) and this year’s theme was express yourself. In support, we have donated to the campaign and look back fondly at our projects which were inspired and driven by the creative ideas of children and young people.
One of our favourite projects was the Outdoor Classroom which was to be a new space for education and play in the gardens of Highgate Primary School. As part of the design process we held workshops for the children and teachers which gave them an opportunity to voice their hopes and needs of the new informal outdoor space. We listened to the children’s ideas about colours and shapes, and we listened to their stories of trees, flying comets, beaches and erupting volcanoes. We understood that this playful structure would mean everything and anything to them – a magical castle, a stage, even a habitat for baby owls to nest! All of these ideas helped shape the final design output.
Another play space we designed was for a new pavilion in Paradise Park in Islington for our client, the children’s rights association, Islington Play. The final output was a truly collaborative effort, funded by an online crowdfunding campaign and built by local residents, parents and anyone who wanted to help. This project too was influenced by the discussions we had with children during several workshops. Their aspirations for Paradise Park was limitless, and we decided that it is exactly this free flow of ideas and imaginative play that the stage should provoke.
As a practice, we believe in the importance and power of good quality, open and accessible play spaces for children and young people and we find value in holding workshops and exchanging discussion throughout the design process. Imagination, play and creativity are hugely important to a child’s development and mental health. If you would like to hear more about Children’s Mental Health week, please visit here.
We also had lots of creative little helpers exploring ideas for our new woodland trail project in Highgate due later this year. Watch this space!