Bridge School Playdecks

Open Practice Architecture, London, 2011

 

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Bridge Lower Playdeck 

Cathrin Walczyk (website)     Download Original

  • Bridge Lower Playdeck    
  • Bridge Lower Playdeck    
  • Bridge Upper Playdeck    
  • Bridge Lower Playdeck    
  • Bridge Lower Playdeck    
  • Bridge Upper Playdeck    
  • Bridge Lower Playdeck    
  • Bridge Lower Playdeck    
  • Bridge Upper Playdeck    
  • Bridge Lower Playdeck    
  • Bridge Upper Playdeck    
  • Bridge Lower Playdeck    
  • Bridge Lower Playdeck    
  • Bridge Upper Playdeck    
  • Bridge Lower Playdeck    
  • Bridge Upper Playdeck    
  • Bridge Upper Playdeck    
  • Bridge Upper Playdeck    
  • Bridge Lower Playdeck    
  • Bridge Upper Playdeck    
  • Timber elements    
  • Timber elements Upper Deck    
  • Plan - 3rd Floor Playdeck    
  • Plan - 3rd Floor Canopy    
  • Section - 3rd Floor Playdeck    
  • Timber elements Lower Deck    
  • Plan - 1st Floor Playdeck    
  • Section - 1st Floor Playdeck    
  • Consultation & design process    
  • Bridge Lower - original    
  • Lower playdeck - original    
  • Lower Playdeck sketch    
  • Bridge Upper - original    
  • Upper playdeck - original    
  • Upper Playdeck sketch    
  • Timber elements    
  • Canopy detail    
  • Canopy detail    

The Bridge Secondary School is a specialist school for communication and interaction in Islington, London. Open Practice Architecture have redesigned the existing grey and uninspiring 'playdecks' to enhance opportunity for sensory and physical development

The Bridge School caters for pupils with autistic spectrum disorders, SLD (severe learning difficulties) and PMLD (profound and multiple learning difficulties).

The new school building was completed in 2007. In 2010 Open Practice Architecture and education consultants Bryanston Square were commissioned by the Bridge to re-design the School’s 1st and 3rd floor playdecks. Head Teacher Penny Barratt challenged the team to consider how the existing grey and uninspiring spaces could be developed to allow outside play to become an extension of the school's otherwise excellent facilities for sensory and physical development.

For small scale projects the collaboration between educational consultant and architect is unusual but the partnership gave rise to much greater accuracy in assessing the school’s needs. The brief was carefully developed through several staff workshops aimed at better understanding the complex requirements of the varied student groups.

The Lower Playdeck on the 1st floor was being used by children with greatly varying physical capabilities. The principle design aim was to separate the space between fast and slow play so that children who simply wanted to sit, chat, lie down, listen to music or manipulate a sensory board had space to enjoy these activities away from those who wanted to run, play football or ride bikes. This separation was achieved by creating an undulating ‘timber field' with coloured seating pockets. The field is formed from three widths of timber strip creating a landscape of varying texture to explore. The gentle variation in angle and depth provides subtle physical challenges for kids with limited mobility. The space is tied together with brightly coloured lines for children to follow, particularly those with autistic spectrum disorders.

The Upper Playdeck was originally being used for more challenging students and to help individual students calm down after activity within the school had become too stressful. The main problem with the space was its exposure, both in terms of privacy from the neighbouring flats, but also from the sun and wind. Far from being a calming space the playdeck was a place of extreme sensory stimulation. The new design frames the central space with a pair of decked timber elements; a deep wall and a beach landscape. The deep wall provides shelter from the wind and privacy from the neighbouring flats. It houses three seating options; a bench seat, a coloured 'summer house' pocket for groups with views over the city, and an individual timber 'escape' seat which reflects sound inwards, making a place in which to escape the world. Finally the playdeck is covered by a striped canopy. Rather than fully blocking out the sun, the canopy is made from three different densities of netting giving varied levels of shade while framing segments of the sky above.

Feedback from Head Teacher Penny Barratt: “This is exactly what we wanted; an adolescent playspace. Often the old playdecks gave rise to behavioural problems, the children got bored and lacked stimulation, with the new design this has entirely changed. The consultation process was excellent and the staff feel their ideas have been adopted, which is of the upmost importance."

Data

  • Begun: Jun 2011
  • Completed: Oct 2011
  • Floor area: 526m2
  • Sector: Education
  • Total cost: £70,000
  • Funding: National Lottery
  • Tender date: Mar 2011
  • Procurement: JCT Minor Works (MW2005)
  • Address: The Bridge Secondary School , 28 Carleton Road, London, N7 0EQ, United Kingdom

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