Creating imaginative play equipment in North London – our chief designer’s perspective

Projective Group | Christ the King Primary School

“You know your designs are going to have an impact, but when you see it for yourself you really appreciate the value of what you’re doing,” says Dan Pooley, Splash Projects’ Business Design Manager. “It’s also good to see how the participants interact with your designs, and what they get out of it.”

In October, as well as designing the equipment, Dan was the 2IC to Splash Project Manager Steve Hughes at our two-day project with the Projective Group at Christ the King Roman Catholic Primary School, Finsbury Park, North London.

“The playground was almost barren, there was hardly anything there for the kids to play with,” continued Dan. “When the team first arrived they wanted to get on with it straight away. They weren’t based that far away so they were keen to give something back to their community.

“The wow moment of the whole project was seeing the look of pure joy on the faces of the children at the end – and also the looks on the faces of the participants who loved seeing how happy they had made the children.”

Dan, a practising sculptor and qualified landscaper and joiner, joined Splash in July 2022 after 13 years teaching construction at Petroc College during which time he taught students how to use 3D Computer Aided Design software which is what he uses to design Splash Projects. Prior to that, he taught design technology and art at a secondary school.

Our designers are involved as soon as a Splash Project is put into motion; once a recce of a project site is carried out and conversations about what equipment would be most beneficial, the design work can commence.

“For this project I worked off the photographs of the site and lots of conversations with the deputy headteacher about what the kids wanted,” Dan explains. “We chose London transport as the theme because we wanted something which the children could connect with.

“The layout of the equipment flowed from the train to the station to the bus to the stage, and we decided to put the climbing wall inside the train so they could play on it in all year round.”

He added: “These are cool London kids so it was great to see them dance on the stage, they had all the moves!”