Playgrounds on the roof – it’s the future

Britain’s schools are coming under increasing pressure to provide more places for our growing population. This in turn means that valuable green space for children to play is being sacrificed or compromised to build more classrooms.

There is no doubt that children must have somewhere to let off steam and thankfully it seems the answer is not too far away as planners look increasingly towards the sky – or to be more precise – the roofs of school buildings.

For those already working out the potential health and safety issues of children playing on the tops of school buildings then be assured that this is an idea that is working well on schools and public buildings across the world.

With such a shortage of space it has to make sense to make full use of an unused school roof – assuming of course that proper safety fencing and supervision are in place.

It also brings new meaning to so called green roofs which are becoming increasingly popular in the UK but have been mostly designed with aesthetics in mind, such as a pleasant garden outlook, as opposed to providing something practical for our children to use – particularly in inner city areas where space is at a premium.

Waterproofing specialist and manufacturer Proteus say the technology to waterproof a “green roof” for plants is exactly the same as installing one that can take a children’s playground.

It would seem then that all we need are few adventurous architects willing to take the plunge. There is evidence to suggest that this is happening but town planners are still a little cautious. Birmingham Councillors have recently turned down such a plan for an inner city school – but if they had consulted with neighbours in Holland and Germany they would have discovered that there is little to fear.

Time will probably ensure that rooftop playgrounds will soon be the norm. Even though 90,000 additional primary places were created last year, a further 130,000 are needed in the next three years.

The shortage of places is felt acutely in London, and one borough that has felt the crush is Tower Hamlets where the population soared by 26% during the decade spanning 2001 to 2011. The area has seen the largest increase in population of any local authority in England and Wales.

All these children need somewhere to play and if there is nothing at ground level – then the only way is up.