East Village – Plot 5 play space by

2024 Schools and Playgrounds / United Kingdom / Built in 2023 /

play is primary

As Johan Huizinga (Dutch philosopher and anthropologist) expressed: ‘play is primary’. It is a key factor in creating community, which outlasts the actual time. 
In a large metropolis like London, public spaces have a crucial role in supporting inclusiveness, social interactions between different backgrounds, and inter-generational bonds. In Carve, our goal is to design welcoming public realms to encourage the local community to spend time together and discover all the affordances, including play.

great potential

The bid of London 2012 for the Olympic Games was vowed to be a “model for social inclusion” aiming to leave behind real estate speculation, social displacement, and unused venues. 
Built as the Athletes’ Village for the London 2012 Olympic Games, East Village was transformed into a residential area, comprising a mix of free market units and affordable housing for medium-income families. A key promise for its legacy was affordable housing “to serve the needs of the local population and to provide them with a continuing opportunity to live in the area”. 
Despite the initial intention, the percentage of actual affordable housing had a large decline over time. However, Plot 5 stands out as the only mixed social housing block in the area. Unique, because it is related to the best public play space of the district.

Thus, Plot 5 has an exceptional character: it is a crossing field among different communities, serving the functions of public space and with some traits of play. It represents a non-standardized public space and softly inspiring play.

fostering interactions through play

Today, this urban area is a key piece of the urban realm in East Village promoting social interactions in the neighbourhood. Its playful character is a true magnet for both visitors from across the district and residents. It is designed to work as a ‘shared space’: not only meant for play, but open to everybody and easy to access.

The zones are defined by ‘informal boundaries’ such as seatings and concrete edges that allow to outline the space without creating any physical barrier.

Plot 5 has a distinctive approach to play: instead of relying on typical playground equipment, which can often be prescriptive and rigid in dictating how to play, it leans toward creating playable landscapes. These may consist of compact spaces or objects that have the flexibility to take on various meanings depending on the time, users, and ever-changing conditions.

unconventional play

The captivating triangular shape of the adjacent building inspired the creation of a regular pattern, which serves as the foundation for the design. The argyle-base pattern (obtained from the combination of two triangles) connects the play zones, the pedestrian zone and the building’s plinth.
Plot 5 exists out of “Hills” and “Clouds”. A sequence of spaces with multiple activities and meanings. The “Hills” consist of coral-red blocks, forming an adventurous maze, perfect for hide-and-seek, and “Clouds” is a 4-meter-tall light blue structure hovering above the ground. 
The elements have simple forms stimulating children to play with an “open” mind and inviting them to use their fantasy. Carve intentionally creates spaces that avoid individual meanings to let everyone’s imagination free to wonder.

colourful hints and interlinking nature

The public space extends between the building blocks. It connects to the nearby Victory Park and creates a continuous green link with comparable species. 
As one approaches the park’s side, the green carpet becomes denser. Areas of evergreen and herbaceous planting offer a splash of colour throughout the seasons. At first glance, the trees might appear to ignore the argyle pattern, but they are actually perfectly integrated into it.

The argyle blocks are made of perforated metal sheets which ensures the light-weight appearance together with a semi-transparent look. Children can enjoy the feeling of being in their own world while also being easily supervised from the outside. The distinctive coral-red and light blue tones relate to the surrounding facades of the buildings. 
The palette is bright and able to rekindle the city background, creating a striking contrast with London’s often overcast skies.

Other landscape architecture offices involved in the design of landscape: Townshend Landscape Architects
Architecture offices involved in the design: Bell Phillips Architects

Location: Sunrise Cl, London E20 1DU, United Kingdom

Design year: 2019

Year Completed: 2023


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