Playground Adventure

Making an imaginative playground for a children’s hospice in Kuwait was a voyage of discovery, says Ian Crockford.

Among the stories of bigger, better, more dramatic commercial buildings peppering the Gulf states is one very different tale, a project centred on individuals and designed with care in mind. This is Bayt Abdullah Children’s Hospice in Kuwait, the first in the region entirely dedicated to the care of children. Three large playground structures dominate the scheme, the brain-child of a group of hospital volunteers led by Margaret Al-Sayer.

The hospice is named after four year old Abdullah, whose courage and determination, in the face of his ultimately fatal illness, inspired the group to act. Margaret and her team, convinced that the environment makes a significant difference to children’s response to treatment and to their quality of life, set about fund raising and commissioning a totally new kind of centre for the children’s long-term care.

The preliminary concept for the hospice buildings, playground and external play structures was initially drawn up by a young Kuwaiti architectural student, Alia Al-Ghunaim. The client approached Gulf Consult (Kuwait) to design the buildings, working with US interior health specialist Architects NBBJ. In 2009 Marks Barfield Architects was asked to design the special play structures, when the buildings were a third complete on site. Jane Wernick helped with the engineering aspects, and Quantem Consulting with costs.

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