In hindsight it is of course perfectly reasonable to include stabling for Unicorns. And if there’s room for a pony or two as well even better.
As part of a major house renovation in Hampstead, North London, we were asked to conceive a large playcentre incorporating a custom 2 storey playhouse, activities, and stabling. The site was a mature multi level garden, which, at the time required imagination to be able to see what would remain once the builders had gone.
A design challenge
Customers often show me their sloping and awkward gardens with trepidation, thinking there is no hope for that ‘difficult space’. When I see a garden with changes in level, with slopes, and with trees in the way I try to imagine how those elements could be incorporated, or utilised to the overall benefit and advantage of the project. Over the years I’ve found that a well imagined and designed play area can be a great integrator and connector in a garden. Inevitably in a climbing frame, or even a multilevel playhouse, there are different levels. Normally we use stairs, or ladders or play activities to connect the levels. Where there are slopes and banks, and retaining walls then we can add bridges, and walkways, and us sides down banks, and really go to town on the true potential that a difficult space has.
In this case we were really lucky. The height of the retaining wall behind the steps was perfectly just under 1.5m. The slides and fireman’s poles and upper playhouse levels all worked perfectly. But, had this not been the case, if the bank had been a little higher, or lower, there are a huge number of design tricks we’ve developed over the years to solve these problems.
Fun and excitement for children
All this design stuff however, is all well and good, but, is it going to be fun? Is the end result going to allow children to explore and and expand their imaginations and are they going to want to make it a place of their own now, and for many years to come.
I’m really excited with what we achieved with this project. It’s hard to see how any child could not absolutely love their own creative and active play space. We even managed to build a stable, with of course, stable doors. Which I’m pleased to see has been fitted with a straw bed.