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Hackney, London

Client: London Borough of Hackney Council

Cost: £20,000

Date: September, 2009

Genre: Community, Inclusive, Public Realm

Snug transforms public community space

Communities across the country are being encouraged to embrace an innovation in play equipment following a series of successful play days in the London Borough of Hackney.

The council commissioned playground designers Snug & Outdoor to hold a series of events across the borough to highlight how public spaces can be transformed into flexible play opportunities that can bring communities together.

The project culminated in a play day at Gillett Square, Dalston, a flexible inner-city space that is managed by the Hackney Co-operative Developments (HDC) and The Vortex Jazz Club with the help of local volunteers including businesses and residents.

The event showcased Snug that transformed the space into an adventure wonderland for children to discover, create and enjoy.

A spokesperson from HCD comments: “The Square was packed with families and reverberated with the sound of fun and laughter as children of all ages put Snug through its paces.

“The connectivity of Snug invites constant play opportunities, and allows the space to be in a permanent state of change; one minute a group of children would organise themselves to build a rocket ship, then another group would be making a huge tent with fabric supported by the Cones. It was remarkable how children of different ages and backgrounds are able to make friends and play together.”

Council officials were so impressed with the quality, flexibility and look of Snug that they ordered two kits and a secure container for long-term use by residents in and around Gillett Square.

The play equipment was bought using London Development Agency and London Borough of Hackney funding as part of the ‘Making Space in Dalston’ programme.   This year, thanks to funding from the programme Snug is being brought out after school and at weekends while a team of parents and committed volunteers is being constituted.  The aim is also to use the equipment for special community events.  The Vortex and Gillett Square are working with volunteers to form a ‘Friends of Gillett Square’ group that will help run this activity, manage the equipment and assist with other events in the square.

Director of Snug & Outdoor Hattie Coppard comments: “Snug is perfect for this setting because of the way the different shapes encourage co-operation and creativity.  I have seen toddlers and teenagers, and boys and girls all playing together to create amazing set-ups and games, and because everything can be combined together the possibilities are endless!

“I think it is remarkable how local businesses, charities, parents and the local authority have all pitched in to make this work.  Gillett Square is a fantastic example of how utilising public spaces creatively can help bring communities together.”

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