Active Learning Nursery Roof Garden, North London

Active Learning Nursery – Jewish Community Centre, London

Another addition to the successful Active Learning nursery group is the state of the art JW3 site, created as part of the JCC (Jewish Community Centre) on Finchley Road, North London.

Project Brief

This purpose built building uses inspirational architecture to create an incredible community facility – and Active Learning needed their nursery garden to suit the illustrious surroundings whilst also offering the very best learning and development needs of the children.

The Nursery is located on the top floor of the LW3 building and space is at a premium. With this challenging yet small outdoor space on top of the building Active Learning were still keen to afford children the rich opportunities of outdoor play and turned to Playgarden and their specialist landscaping team with their early years expertise.


Playgarden created a number of inspirational designs, developed to make the most of the limited space, and add height and play and learning features to add interest to the outdoor garden. Playgarden added landform to the play area by creating ‘Sunny Island’, a tiered multilevel wooden desert island which houses a playground pump and water channels to create a water wall. Blue acrylic grass was used around the garden to create the impression of the sea, lapping at the shore, and sand has been used liberally around and in the playgarden to create pockets of sandpits and a beach effect. The flexibility of the play area means that other resources and loose parts play can be added to enhance the playability the early years play area.

Space and storage is at a premium within the garden which is why low level decking doubles up as storage, opening up to hide away play resources. Walls are fully utilised with play elements with mirrors and blackboards, inviting exploration and engagement. A two storey play den makes use of the vertical elements of the building creating an adventure in the skies, and the cloud snug is the perfect place for quiet, communal story telling or reflection.


• The play area is on the same level as the nursery, so children can freely access the space as they wish.

• The sand holds very wide appeal for all children. Babies can comfortably sit and manipulate the sand whilst older children can utilise the space to create more ambitious sand structures.

• The water is a great attraction, and children can interact with it to better understand how its finds its course and makes its way downhill.

• Surrounding planting creates a more colourful and attractive landscape, whilst providing sensory stimulation for all children. Children are also able to witness the changing seasons on the plants.

• The different heights on the wooden structure help children understand concepts such as big and small, experiment with challenge and risk by climbing up and down the structure.

• Quieter seating areas away from the structure serve as the perfect setting for quiet thought and reflection or storytelling.

Equipment: Timber structure island, complete with sliding doors and lids. Playground pump and channels, snug seating area, play den, outdoor kitchen (includes shelves, cupboards and hob), 5 stage water filter, multi-turf blue synthetic grass,  sand pit and area, ball pool, blackboards, mirrors.

Landscaping: Planting including herbs, perennial plants, evergreen shrubs, climbing plants.

What the client said…