Group 08

Let's Play will design and regenerate the play area within Beech Road Park in Chorlton into an exciting, age-friendly and inclusive space to benefit the community. We will be visiting several creative playgrounds around Manchester, documenting our ‘playfulness’, integrating proposed ideas from a series of drawings done by primary kids in the neighbourhood and presenting our proposals back to the community.

Flora T / Amanda Jia Yun C

Introducing Our Team!

We are the team 'Let's Play', made of six 5th year March students. A warm welcome to our blog and without further adieu, let us introduce ourselves!

Jason Cheung
Atelier: USE
BArch: Manchester School of Architecture
Worked at: Archi+ inter.
Skills: Revit, Indesign, Photoshop
Interested in: Environmental strategies in architecture

Crystal Poon
Atelier: CIA
BArch: Manchester School of Architecture
Worked at: DLN Architects Limited, Hong Kong
Skills: Autocad, Photoshop, ArchiCAD
Interested in: Sustainable design

Amanda Chua
Atelier: &rchitecture
BArch: Manchester School of Architecture
Worked at: Leach Rhodes Walker, Manchester
Skills: Autocad, Photoshop
Interested in: Design that is responsive, sustainable and never too straight forward

Minnie Wong
Atelier: Advanced Practice
BArch: City University of Hong Kong
Worked at: Ronald Lu and Partners; DLN Architects Limited, Hong Kong
Skills: Autocad, Photoshop, Revit
Interested in: Urban Farming and Parametric Design

Pek Kwan Soo
Atelier: Praxxis
BArch: University of Nottingham
Worked at: LTay Architect, Malaysia
Skills: Revit, Indesign, Photoshop
Interested in: The quality of space and how space flows from one to another

Flora Teng
Atelier: Praxxis
BArch: Manchester School of Architecture
Skills: Revit, Photoshop, Illustrator
Interested in: Psychological impact of building designs
Posted 11 Mar 2020 11:39
Introducing Our Collaborator!

Friends of Beech Road Park is a dedicated local group in Chorlton that is passionate about their local park. The Friends Group actively contributes to the management and upkeep of their local park, as well as arranges activities ranging from frequent gardening events to annual arts festivals. The recent activities include obtaining an outdoor table tennis table, a Christmas Light Switch On and an 'Art in the Park' festival.

One of the Friends is our very own Laura Sanderson, who is a senior lecturer here at MSA. She will be acting as the main contact on behalf of the Friends of Beech Road Park, along with some of the other Friends as we work throughout the project.

The group consists of the local residents who spend a lot of time at the park and are excited to see how much fun we can bring into this project, and potentially to the park!

Follow them on Facebook to get involved:

Posted 23 Mar 2020 12:23
Introducing Our Site!

Our project is located in Beech Road Park, Chorlton. This quaint green space, bustling with families and friendly dogs, offers a children's play area and a multi-purpose games area. During the summer, the park also plays host to the Beech Road Festival.

The park has strong community links, with 'Friend's of Beech Road Park Chorlton' as the main community group that contributes to the management and upkeep of the park, as well as arranging exciting activities within the park.

The rectangular shape park is divided into two triangles, separated by the main pedestrian route. Let's Play will be working on the bottom triangle where currently the play area is located. Sadly, the play area consists of worn-out playing equipment, poor landscaping and designed primarily to cater to the younger age children.

We, together with our collaborator, 'Friend's of Beech Road Park'
thinks it's time to regenerate the play area into an exciting, eye-catching and fun space for the community.
Posted 23 Mar 2020 12:29
Meet Our Mini Collaborators!

Alongside the Friends of Beech Road Park, we are also working indirectly with the younger generation of the Friends. We have sent out a plan of the site to children in the local primary schools for them to draw over, which will give us a collection of drawings and ideas of what the children want in their play area.

Through exploring a series of drawings by the primary school kids in the neighbourhood, we aim to interpret and integrate their ideas into revamping a new play area for them in the park.
Posted 23 Mar 2020 12:31
Site Issues and Opportunities

Earlier in January, we met up with the Friends of Beech Road Park at the park for initial introductions and discussions of what they might be interested in seeing from our events project. We took the opportunity to have a look around the play area to see what could be improved.

A few things that we noticed on site, as well as pointed out by Laura, was that:

1. There were some broken equipment, especially the popular built-in trampolines on the ground, which could pose as a danger to children playing in the park.

2. There was a lack of facilities for parents, such as benches and socialising spaces while their children are playing.

3. The flooring in the play area was quite worn out from the lack of maintenance, which could also be dangerous for people running around there.

4. There wasn't a wide variety of play equipment that could cater for children of all ages, which then restricts and excludes children of certain ages.

We will be taking these points into consideration during our design process.
Posted 23 Mar 2020 12:47
Why Are We Interested?

Public space is all around us, a vital part of everyday urban life such as the streets we pass through on the way to school or work, the places where children play, the local parks in which we enjoy sports, walk the dog and sit at lunchtime.

A high-quality public environment can have a significant impact on the economic life of urban centres big or small. Successful, thriving and prosperous communities are characterised by streets, parks and open spaces that are clean, safe and attractive.

Unfortunately, the play area in Beech Road Park consists of worn-out playing equipment, poor landscaping and are designed primarily to cater to the younger age children. Therefore, we will be redesigning and proposing innovative ideas and designs to be presented back to the collaborators at the end of our events project.

However, our proposals will go much further than just to the collaborators. Our proposals will be used in future, to aid The Friends of Beech Road Park Group to apply for public funding for the play area from the council. Our proposals will enable the councils to visualise how we could turn the existing park's play area into an exciting and age-friendly space for the community and its future.
Posted 23 Mar 2020 12:59
Our first team meeting

In February, our team got together to discuss the session plan, risk assessment and poster design. We each had a role in the early stages of the project.

At this stage, we were keen on looking for guest speakers, especially an architect who has experience in designing playgrounds, as well as playground suppliers who would be able to run us through the safety guidances of designing a play area.

We also decided to look at visiting some amazing local playgrounds and some that are less successful, because we felt it was important for us to understand what works and what doesn't work.
Posted 23 Mar 2020 13:04

Throughout the weeks, we will be doing the competition sheet for most of the time. We will record and document our interpretation of ‘play’, and explain our proposal for the Beech Road Park. The competition sheets will be displayed in our exhibition, the friends of Beech Road park and the community will be invited.

A publication will be completed by MA01 students, which documents the 2-weeks design process by the team. The publication will be distributed to visitors who are going to visit our exhibition.
Posted 23 Mar 2020 13:10
Week 1

The first week is all understanding what ‘play’ is, and focus on initial design.

To document and explore our ‘playfulness’, we will first analyze the drawings provided by school children, to highlight key ideas of what children want, to see a playground from their point of view. Moving on, the Let’s Play team will spend time on our site, as well as other parks in the city. This is a chance to interact with the site and sketch. Travelling to several parks in Manchester allows us to experience the parks by ‘playing', and understand what is successful and unsuccessful in a play area. As we move into the week, a guest speaker, Carma Masson is joining us, who will present her architectural knowledge about playgrounds. This would be a valuable chance for us to share our ideas and ask Carma questions we might have.

Having in-depth understanding on what ‘play’ is, we will then begin our design competition. We will start our initial concepts by doing photocollages, massing models, and begin the final competition sheet. There will be a recap at the end of every day, which is a ‘pin up’ exercise to show the progress we have made for the day. We encourage teammates to speak up and share their comments, since it is always useful to have other’s opinion.
Posted 23 Mar 2020 13:12
Week 2

Week 2 will be more intense. We will continue working on the final competition sheets, as well as begin with our publication.

The Let’s Play team will continue to finish the final competition sheets with the final 3D visuals, GA drawings and diagrams to support proposed design. By the middle of the week, our collaborator, Laura Sanderson will be joining our interim presentation. Each group will be given 10 minutes to present their sheets and ideas to Laura, critical feedback will be given to each group for further iterations of their proposal. The team will have a chance to amend and finalise the competition sheet accordingly to Laura’s comments and feedback.

On our final day, we will set up our exhibition, presenting our work to the community and friends of Beech Road park. A winner will be picked on the day.
Posted 23 Mar 2020 13:14
Introducing Our Guest Speaker!

We are honoured to welcome Carma Masson to speak to us about the different types of play and some of the playful projects she has done.

She is a qualified architect and is currently running a design studio called Playground Design Studio. It is a young multidisciplinary design studio based in Manchester focused on creating playful, engaging and memorable spaces and places for people. The key to their work is a strong narrative and bold use of shape and colour. More information can be found at

Carma has worked for various award-winning architecture, interior and multidisciplinary design practices, and think tanks, in London, Manchester and Kent, including aberrant architecture; the Klassnik Corporation; Office S+M; WHAT_architecture and Publica.

Alongside her work in practice, Carma is also teaching at MSA, MMU and Sheffield Hallam University. She studied at Sheffield University, Canterbury School of Architecture (where she graduated with Distinction) and The CASS, London Metropolitan University.
Posted 23 Mar 2020 13:14
Why Is Play Important?

Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them.

Research shows that play:

1. allows children to build their confidence as they grow up.
2. teaches children about caring for other and the environment.
3. helps them develop social skills, language and communication when they play with other children.
4. helps children develop physical skills.
5. makes them feel loved, happy and safe.
6. allows them to be creative with their imaginations.
Posted 23 Mar 2020 13:20
Invitation to Playground Suppliers

Creative play and Pentagon play are the representative suppliers that we included in our guest speakers invitation list.

Creative play have been designing, manufacturing and installing high-quality playground equipment in a variety of spaces around UK since 1991. The company have been established for more than 25 years, and provided their services to more than 10,000 clients. Their clients include schools, nurseries, holiday parks, parish council, pub/restaurants, and local authorities.

Pentagon play has been inspiring learning through play since 1998 and are specialists in designing, manufacturing and installation of school and nursery playground equipment. They focus on outdoor play, innovation, a sharp attention to detail and trusted relationships for their practice. Their aim is to create stimulating and challenging environments for children that contribute towards key areas of the curriculum.

Let’s play believes that these two suppliers of playground equipment can provide our team with the technical knowledge in designing playground and inspire us with their amazing projects and experience.
Posted 23 Mar 2020 13:23
4 Important Design Considerations

1. Design different types of play
A good playground challenges and promotes children’s growth by providing opportunities for children to engage in multiple different types of play. We must consider how we can accommodate different types of play and ways for children to use their bodies and minds and interact with the environment: Active play, Sensory play, Creative play, Imaginative play, Social play and Reflective play.

2. Secrets and surprises
Children are finely attuned to the small wonders of the world. For them, the magic of a playground sometimes lies more in the little details than it does in the structures and big elements. Throughout our design, we should add in little surprises that can be discovered whilst playing, such as secret hiding places, interesting textures, handles and levers, and peep holes.

3. Consider flow and usability
Children in a natural state of play do not move in straight lines. Having a playground that “flows” well involves having all the components of the playground well-connected. Good “flow” will give the child different directions to explore each time they step into the play space and will help avoid traffic jams on the playground.

4. Work with nature
The best playground is the one nature provided. Tree limbs are perfect for climbing and swinging on and river rocks make the best stepping stones. The ultimate sandbox is a big stretch of beach and a handful of shells. We should incorporate nature into our design as much as possible by adding gardens, trees, flowers, boulders, stumps, and logs.
Posted 23 Mar 2020 13:40
Types of Play

1. Cooperative play
Here we can see the beginning of teamwork. Children will play with others for a common purpose. This helps to develop interacting, socialising and communicating skills in young children.

2. Unoccupied play
It’s the most basic type of play: Children are completely free to think, move, and imagine. This allows them to freely develop their creativity and imagination.

3. Parallel play
Learning to play is learning how to relate to others. In that sense, parallel play is teaching children how to connect with others.

4. Onlooker play
This is when children observe the play of other children, while not actually playing themselves. So much of this play stage is inactive, but it’s still significant. The ability to play with other kids is crucial to getting along in school and beyond.

5. Solitary play
This is when children play alone, with little to no reference to what other kids or adults are doing. Starting to encourage being comfortable with themselves young will develop the ability to be content with their own discovery will serve them well throughout life.
Posted 23 Mar 2020 13:52
Park Tour Day 1

We will be visiting Beech Road Park as a team together with the BA's to have a deeper understanding of the site. Having spoken to Laura in the earlier meetings, Chorlton Park was a lot more popular despite its close proximity to Beech Road Park. We decided it would be a good idea to visit Chorlton Park as well to see what makes it more successful than Beech Road Park's play area within the same community.

Chorlton Park
Opened in 1928, Cholton Park is situated less than four miles from the city centre and attracts over 30,000 visitors a year. Recent improvements include the installation of new furniture and completion of a multi-function area which will serve tennis clubs and players. Chorlton Park has been invaluable in ensuring that the whole community enjoys the park's excellent facilities which include: Bowls Pavilion and enclosed Bowling Green, Children's Playground for Junior and Under 5s, Basketball Court, 5 a-side Football Areas, Junior Pitches and a dog free zone.
Posted 23 Mar 2020 15:06
Park Tour Day 2

We will be splitting up into 2 groups, in which each group will be visiting 1 of the 2 playgrounds in local parks in Manchester - Heaton Park and Ostrich Park. Our aim of this site visit is to investigate what works successfully and what doesn't in each of the play areas, and to come back as a team to present our findings.

Heaton Park's recent addition of a new wooden adventure playground is 1 of the 2 playgrounds we plan to visit. The concept of the Wild Woodland Play Space is to reconnect children with nature through play and the area will feature everything from bridges and tunnels to a treetop nest. While incorporating features of a traditional playground, such as swings and slides, the new area will take a more natural, wild approach, using bespoke timber rather than metal, and including playful planting and grassy mounds.

Ostrich Park is a small park in Prestwich, near Heaton Park, consisting of simple playground equipment. Its last recent installation was about 4 years ago, and there are lots of space for children to run around and be silly.

As Heaton Park is much bigger than Ostrich Park, more investment has been put into the park and its playgrounds.
Posted 23 Mar 2020 15:07
How Do We Play?

‘Play’ is the core element in our event team. We will explore play by always questioning what play is, how we play, how we record play, how we involve play in design process, and finally how we deliver play as a finish product.

Hence, during our event, we will go to Heaton Park and Ostrich Park to experience what is play and how we play. We will be recording videos during the play to record it and implement the element in our design process.
Posted 23 Mar 2020 15:07
Interim Review

On 6th May 2020 (Wednesday), we will be inviting our collaborator, Laura in to join us for an interim review. We will each present our group proposals to everyone, as well as Laura.

This will be a crucial moment for us to do any finishing touches to our design in order to satisfy our collaborators. We value our collaborator's comments and try to take them into consideration throughout the design process.
Posted 23 Mar 2020 15:08
Skills Development

Throughout our Events project, we are looking at curating and enhancing some of the necessary skills to help us become the aspiring future architects we aim to be. A variation of software skills will be used to produce our outputs, such as posters, videos and publications, which gives us an opportunity to learn and build on these skills:

1. Video Making
2. Group work
3. Model making
4. Conceptual design
5. Graphic Visualisation
Posted 23 Mar 2020 15:08
Let's Design!

A design charrette is an intense period of design or planning activity. The word charrette is a collaborative session in which a group of designers drafts a solution to a design problem.

We will be using photo collages and sketches to in this fast-paced session to generate quick design iterations that may arise through online research or from our site visits to our precedent parks.

This session is to let our creativity flow and also to think outside the box of how a play area should be design!

Posted 29 Mar 2020 09:58
Model Your Own Play Area!

In this session, we will be using simple classroom model making materials such as grey cards, plasticine or foamboard to design massing elements for our different design iterations.

Through this session, we will be able to analyse and critic the relationship between form, circulation and shape of our designs in 3D. This will help to prompt further ideas and solution among the group in order to reach our final design proposals.

"The model provides a shared focus for design discussion in a way that promotes interaction, the exchange of ideas and engagement with the messy, physical, creative process of designing the world in which we live " -Gavin Henderson
Posted 29 Mar 2020 10:07
Final Publication

One of our final output will be a printed publication that would be handed over to our client, Laura Sanderson. Within this booklet, we will compile our activities, design iterations and final outputs throughout the entire Event project.

We hope that our participation in the Event project will aid Friends of Beech Road Park to gain future public funding for the Play Area and enable the council to re-imagine the opportunities that this quaint, beautiful park is able of.
Posted 30 Mar 2020 09:22
Join Us!

Be part of our team and our project to bring fun and excitement to the current and future generations of the Friends of Beech Road Park!
Posted 30 Mar 2020 09:23
It is with great sadness to announce that Let's Play has been cancelled due to the recent Covid-19 outbreak.

Throughout university, we have always been asked to create our own clients and design for users formulated by our own imaginations. This project would have given us the amazing opportunity to engage with real life clients, effectively a glimpse for us into the real architecture world.

Up until now, we have been lucky to work with Laura Sanderson and the Friends of Beech Road Park, as well as receiving drawings from children in the primary schools near the park. It was amazing to see what they had come up with and it would have been great to see how we could have accomplished their visions for the park play area. The project has taught us to have a deeper understanding for the social value of the projects we work on and their impact to the local community.

The Let's Play team is happy to resume collaboration with Laura and the Friends after the Covid-19 threat has been neutralised, if we are ever needed again for them to apply for future funding.

We just want to say a very huge thank you to our collaborators, guest speakers and to all who were involved in Let's Play up until now.

Thank you and stay healthy, everyone!
Posted 30 Mar 2020 09:24