Creating a playground for all – Gloucester Gate, Regent’s Park
One of London’s best known parks has replaced its long-standing playground, re-designed in all natural materials, to deliver an inclusive and accessible experience to children. Gloucester Gate Playground in Regent’s Park, previously designed on flat ground with metal materials, comprises new equipment and an undulating landscape interspersed with hedges, trees, flowers and grass.
Completing the task in 2020, Civic Engineers played an instrumental role in the design. Working alongside landscape architect Land Use Consultants and a play-specialist artist Jim Buchan Projects, the new playground is almost double the size of the former site. It boasts a 50-metre zip wire, bespoke climbing structures and water play alongside the traditional offer of swings, slides and sandpit.
With equipment built from natural materials such as wood, rope, bark and willow, accessibility has been at the forefront of the design. A wheelchair-friendly roundabout and bridge feature on the site alongside a widened slide and raised tables for water and sand play.
The bridge design took particular attention. Children’s safety was of the utmost priority, meaning project leader Claire Young needed to consider everything from the aperture of the protective netting (to ensure it wasn’t a climbing risk) to non-slip surfaces and the safest toe rail height. At its foundation, the structural design for the bridge was optimised to make it as visually light-weight as possible by bearing directly onto the reinforced gabion baskets.
Prone to flooding before construction, the geology and topography of land posed a difficult challenge due to London’s impermeable clay strata directly under the site. Civic’s design combined a number of SuDS features reducing flood risk to great effect.
Happily, increased biodiversity and general landscaping of the area has been vastly improved, with the land now receiving proper drainage meaning it is far less susceptible to waterlogged and obstructed footpaths. Families with children and locals will undoubtedly be enjoying Civic’s contributions to this west-London destination for many seasons to come.
Images Courtesy of LUC and Duncan & Grove