Playground & Treehouse 

Pat Heung Central Primary School

The co-designed outdoor playground for Pat Heung Central Primary School (PHCPS) fulfills the school’s distinctive place-making needs. Our design adopted the main themes of naturalness and playfulness to reinforce the school’s identity shaped by its abundant outdoor spaces in close proximity natural surroundings.

The project is part of a larger research collaborating with the Faculty of Social Science, CUHK to develop a systematic process to co-create school environments that support positive learning and promote student well-being. Through action design research in campus renovation projects, the aim is to identify viable design strategies and construct operational prototypes that promote positive education in typical school settings.

At PHCPS, a “tree-house” comprising a series of steps, platforms and curving vertical enclosures creates a cozy place for students to inhabit around one of four of big trees. Using the outdoor environment as third teacher, a range of interventions remodel the large open lawn area to stimulate sensorimotor imagination: a semi-cone shaped pavilion as a mini-stage for performing and listening to environmental sounds; a rectangular sunken lawn for different ball games and group play with casual audience; a grass knoll and coloured half-dome for chasing and vigorous free play; a circular sandpit for constructive play; coloured EPDM shapes created by reshaping manhole covers offer opportunities for spontaneous peer activities such as sitting, chatting and picnic.  Play that promotes body movement like climbing, sliding, rolling and jumping is encouraged by the designs. Abstract geometrical forms are adopted to encourage imaginative play. Contrasting textures, forms and materials trigger physical stimulus for play as well.  

The impact of architectural design in reshaping the learning environment and the effectiveness of the design principles will be evaluated through systematic post-occupancy to complete a model co-creative framework of school redesign for learning and well-being enhancement in 2021.

  • This design research is partially supported by the Place-making component of the Jockey Club Positive Education “Ascend and Radiate” Project (JC-PEAR) by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust (02/2019 to 01/2020). We would also like to acknowledge Professor Chi-yue Chiu and his team at CUHK and Pat Heung Central Primary School for their active participation in this research.


Project data

School  Pat Heung Central Primary School

Completion April 2020

POE  Sep 2020 – Aug 2021

Area  1,150m2 (playground) and 67m2 (treehouse)

Collaborator  Jimmy Ho

Team  Kenny Cheung

Images  Pat Heung Central Primary School, Jimmy HO

Online media

Jockey Club Positive Education “Ascend and Radiate” Project ■ 

玩泥沙 滾山坡 上樹屋 村校樂園 自由玩出正向教育 ■ 


Ho, T-W., Chung, T. & Lee, S-L. (2020) “Co-Creating Outdoor Architectural Design Strategies for well-being in a Hong Kong Primary School” in Proceedings of Experiential Design – Rethinking relations between people, objects and environments, AMPS Conference. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida: 16-17 January 2020.

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