WHAT architecture - London

Agnes Riley Park

Play area
Scale sqm
LocationAgnes Riley Gardens, Poynders Road, Clapham, London, UK
ClientLondon Borough of Lambeth, Local community surrounding Clapham Road Estate
Design Year2010

Working with Play England objectives, the project aims were for children and young people in the London Borough of Lambeth to have regular access and opportunity for free, inclusive, local play provision and play space. This meant working with diverse urban contexts ranging from social housing estates through to public parks. In many cases these were ‘concrete jungles’ featuring a distinct absence of greenery and so the project required artificial natures to be inserted. High levels of stakeholder consultation were required and this required astute management of expectations for deliverability.


At Agnes Riley Gardens the pond becomes the focal area of the park, providing an inclusive and tactile playspace. The boardwalk provides ‘all over access’ to a pond in the middle of a large public park. The initial strategy to make the ‘pond watertight’ were, thanks to the WHAT_Design Review, changed as it was recognised that a ‘natural pond’ held greater ecological benefits: by lowering the park’s water table, it would help reduce trees from falling over due to water logged roots.