Slade Gardens Community Play Association


Frustrated by the lack of facilities for children and young people, this community play area was created by local residents on an abandoned World War II bombsite. Slade Gardens is staffed by trained volunteers and has supervised clubs for 5- to 16-year-olds and a youth club for 17- to 20-year-olds.

It is open every day, all year round, and has an acre of outdoor space plus plenty of indoor facilities for painting, arts and crafts, cooking, playing table tennis and pool. Young people can also join homework clubs and have access to computers.

Seen from the outside perimeter fence, Slade Gardens appears to be a sprawling and colourful adventure playground. Its play structure drew many young children and parents in to join and support the club for ages 5 to 16, but take-up was low in the 17-to-20 age range. Slade Gardens' play structure appearance seemed to be discouraging older teenagers. Atelier was asked to look at developing a sign that specifically addressed some of the 'lethargic' attitudes of young adults who thought it 'uncool' to be seen hanging around playgrounds.


Atelier spent some hours at a teenage club session. We talked to the volunteer supervisors and some of the teenagers who had quite by chance discovered what was on their doorstep. We left with a long list of club activities both for teenagers and younger children. Inspired by Slade Gardens' distinctive great green outdoor structure, we created our own typographic version — naming some of the activities available. Teenager silhouettes were added, doing 'teenage' activities such as dancing or playing pool.


Listening to the teenagers, we noticed that what really interested them was not primarily the activities that the club had to offer. Rather, they liked the idea of having a place where they could 'chill', meet and laugh with their friends. Our typography highlighted these opportunities and so we were able to develop one sign that appealed to young children, parents AND teenagers.