King Square Gardens

Site details
A play improvement project to an existing playground within a larger park in Islington, Central London: King Square is located on the north eastern side of the Goswell Road/Lever Street junction, south of the Angel Islington.

The park is surrounded by high density 1960s local authority estates, which are among the 10% most deprived in the UK. A new park
building was completed in 2011 including a park keepers office, toilets, community room and external storage space.

Inception of the scheme
In 2004, working in partnership with Islington Council, EC1 New Deal for Communities published a ‘Public Space Strategy’ for the
parks, streets and estates within its area. King Square Gardens was identified as a key space within the area for improvement.

Following on from this report, Islington Council commissioned a King Square Area Framework and Action Plan in 2008, which led to the construction of a new park building, completed in 2011. The existing play area was highlighted as an important space locally in need of redevelopment and refurbishment.

What was the design ambition?
The overall ambition was to make King Square Gardens a destination play space by creating improved play opportunities throughout the park.

The key objectives were:
• Increasing the play value of the park
• Creating more opportunities for playing with natural elements
• Create a more inclusive play environment
• Enhancing the park’s status as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation
• Improve park user’s sense of safety

Design process
The design and construction was completed through the provision of a full landscape architectural service from Stage C to L,
closely linked to an internal and external consultation process at each design stage.

Approach to consultation and participation
During the design and construction process, there was extensive consultation with internal council officers including: project officer, tree officer, maintenance and asset managers, play fitters, park keeper and area parks manager.

In relation to external consultation, a series of consultation events were held, with a focus on engaging children and young people through play events, participatory workshops making models and a visit to a stone supplier to select stone boulders for inclusion in the final scheme. The evolving design work was also discussed and disseminated through a young people’s steering group, forming links with a nearby adventure playground, youth club and nursery.

Intended users
The project is intended to provide play opportunities that are engaging for children and young people up to their mid-teens.

Social and environmental context
King Square Gardens is located in one of the most densely populated areas of central London, where there is also limited areas of parks and open spaces.

Broader strategic/policy objectives
The project responded to two key policy objectives:

Islington Council Corporate Strategy 2011-15
‘Our corporate strategy aims to improve the lives of all residents and make Islington a fairer place. Of the six corporate priorities, this project will help to meet three:

• best start in life for children
• healthy, active and independent lives
• lower crime rate and anti-social behaviour

Greenspace Play Strategy 2011
The Council has developed a play strategy which commits to using the principles set out in Design for Play as well as the Council’s Inclusive Design SPD. It also recognises that exposure to risk is an essential part of play provision and states that we will adopt a risk-benefit approach to assessing risk in play as outlined in the Managing Risk in Play Provision Implementation Guide.

The future
Since opening, visits to the playground increased during the summer by over 35% when compared to the same time period in
2012, with an average of 1560 visits per day. If further funds become available, consideration will be given to addition of new street furniture and exploration of the addition of play opportunities to other areas of the Gardens.


  • Project Name

    King Square Gardens

  • Location

    London Borough of Islington

  • Category

    Parks and gardens

  • Landscape Architect

    Breeze Landscape Architects Limited

  • Client

    Islington Council, Environment & Regeneration Department

  • Brief

    Making King Square Gardens a better place to play. The ambition was to create a more playful landscape -more inclusive, offering opportunities for children to experience risk and challenge, providing opportunities to interactwith the natural world, and sustainable in the broadest sense.


  • Project Team

    Landscape Architect & Lead Consultant: Breeze landscape architects limitedStructural Engineer: ConisbeeCost Consultant: Baillie Knowles PartnershipCDMC: Baillie Knowles Partnership

  • Local planning authority or government body

    Islington Council

  • Year Completed


  • Contract Value


  • Capital Funding

    Funded from a range of sources including: Section 106 monies: &pound338,000 & Veolia Environmental Trust: &pound97,000


  • Planting

    Damp garden: Mixed planting of shrub and perennial planting Shade garden: Mixed shrub and perennial planting Turf: Hard wearing turf Hedges: Mixed native hedge planting to increase species diversity Bespoke design of timber structures Design of site specific timber climbing structures for two different age groups, with structures being design to be integral to adjacent landform design. Working with a play risk consultant and Russell Play to deliver the structures to meet the requirements of EN1176, provide a challenging, but safe play environment delivered on site to meet financial constraints and robust, low maintenance equipment. On-site management of water from water play Design of a damp garden with sand trap to receive water overflow from water play pools, providing a low maintenance, simple sustainable solution which also increases biodiversity of the site. Working within close proximity of existing trees Development of a detailed method statement for tree works and phased tree protection plans for working in close proximity to a number of existing mature trees located within and adjacent to the construction site.

  • Materials

    Hard materials Natural stone seating walls; precast concrete block paving Play pools In-situ concrete Play materials Play sand; rubber grass safety matting; wet pour rubber Play structures Robinia play structures; stainless steel structures and equipment; powder coated steel structures Furniture Natural stone seating walls; FSC timber seating; reconditioned existing seats reclaimed from site clearance operations

  • Suppliers

    Hard pavings: Charcon, Marshalls Limited In-situ concrete: Lazenby Play equipment: Eibe Play, Russell Play Limited, Steelline Water play: Ustigate

  • Contractors

    Main contractor: Warwick Landscaping Limited Sub-contractors: Ustigate

  • Breeze Landscape Architects Limited

    Registered Practice - (1 - 2 Employees)
  • Approximate Map Location


    London Borough of Islington

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