Hanbury First School in Worcestershire is a primary school for children aged 4-9 and currently has around 135 pupils. Our project was to create a new adventure play area, to celebrate the life of one of their beloved classmates.
Leo Mercer died suddenly, shortly after joining his brother, Finley as a pupil at Hanbury School in September 2022.
“HFS Leo” is a play area with a bespoke two-storey play ship designed in collaboration with the Mercer family to incorporate many of Leo's favourite things.
The playground ship sits in a peaceful, secluded spot wrapped with trees and lies right next to the main playground with stepped access. It's a two-storey ship-themed play structure that offers the children of Hanbury the ultimate place for imaginative play, with little celebrations of Leo in every corner.
Incorporating a climbing net, ladder, slide, giant steps, telescope, ship's wheel and play map, the ship has huge play value and creates a great source of fun and adventure for the various age groups at the school.
The lower level of the ship has three points of access to the upper deck. Giant ‘cargo’ steps inside, a clamber net and a ladder access on the outside. The upper deck holds the imaginative play items with the ladder, clamber net and slide being the access points back down.
The collaborative nature of the design meant that we incorporated elements of Leo's special character into the design, including Leo’s favourite colour green to the window trims and ships' flags. Bespoke play elements such as the way-finding map reflect his personality. The interactive map, mounted to the ship's walkway includes references to some of Leo’s favourite things.
There are different locations and islands that the children can ‘sail’ to such as ‘Dandelion Dock’, ‘Blackberry Bay’, ‘Rhino Rock', 'Dino Dunes’ and ‘Wildflower White-waters’. On the opposite side of the walkway to the map, there’s a ‘destination spinner’ which has each of these locations on a different segment and children can spin it, to see where they should be navigating that day.
The play was opened recently with the family being guests of honour, along with some of Leo’s friends enjoying the play together.