Poplar Play expands the facilities of an existing nursery, providing new space for a drop-in service for up to 25 children and parents. The project forms part of a series of community projects supported by the London Docklands Development Corporation.
Inspired by 'The Chronicles of Narnia' by C.S.Lewis, the spaces unfold to reveal a cloistered garden, a ‘magical’ landscape accessed beneath a covered loggia. Within the nursery, a ‘wardrobe’ - seven identical doors along the rear wall of the principle play space – give access to toy stores, an office and the staff/parent room. A ‘secret’ retreat from which adults/parents can observe both internal and external play spaces is located on the first floor. A linear gallery is accessed from the parent room across a perforated deck overlooking the double-height entrance space. This space provides opportunities as a gallery to display the children’s artwork and stage puppet shows.
Poplar Play was developed with a community focus and it was important that the building’s scale and detail should not fall into the trap of employing architectural gimmicks for children alone. Instead, the building explores an architecture which works unconsciously for both adults and children alike. Like the gateway to Narnia, the design hoped to provide the armature for imagination, creativity and adventure.