YPCE bursary School ground design by children


This booklet is a record of the project and it’s findings; it also serves as a manual that outlines the learning from this project.

It describes the objectives, operation, outcomes and history of the project. It showcases the work by the children and finally explores the buildability of the childrens design proposals.

From November 2011 to August 2012 F& S conducted workshops at four different schools over an eight-week time frame. Schools were selected in order to represent a broad demographic with children aged between 7 and 13 years old.

We chose schools with a variety of children from different socio- economic background: A school in the North Inner city (Grangegorman), one in South Dublin (Monkstown), one in North Dublin (Ballbriggan) and one in the rural commuter belt (Ticknock, Wicklow). The age ranged from 7 to 13 year old children. 

Workshops were held over 8 to 10 weeks, 50 minutes per week


 Developing a design with children.

Tuning into different ways of communicating about spaces and places helped children to explore their ideas. Children within the study, of different ages and abilities and background were very much at ease with communicating their design through building models and later on drawing them. Observing children’s choice of materials and childrens’ engagement with their designs opens up new possibilities for architects to understand how children wish to experience their surrounding.

Spaces developed by children
1. Imaginative role play and creating spaces that allow that is very important for the children.
2. An imaginary sense of adventure and danger always features in imaginative play. Allow for that without actually suggesting to build dangerous structures:
3. In-between spaces are very important: They part of the play. The playelements should be built into a coherent landscape and not stand as single units without any spatial relationship
4. Dens and little houses and shelters feature a lot: Children enjoy being hidden from the world: a rare and comfortable experience
5. Materials chosen for model building reflected their wish for stimulating the very active visual and tactile senses
6. Many utilised abstract shapes, they leave freedom for imaginative interpretation and multiple narratives
7. The model structures relate to the size of the model children: Children desire structures that relate to the children’s size in scale
8. The model spaces built are experienced by the children through moving through them: Children have a natural tendency to express themselves through movement: This allows for intuitive unfolding of spatial relationships and structural experience
9. During the Tynock study we recorded over 40 different ways of child play in their grounds – from running around, jumping from one side of a curb to another, to sitting in a quiet spot talking,
study- ing different flowers and leaves and picking them to build something.