Jake's Treehouse York Design Award Winner (Young People's Choice)

Case Study

Robert Wilkinson Primary Academy, York

When four-year-old Jake Smith sadly passed away in December 2016, his family were keen to build something in memory of their son and brother.

With the help of Jake’s family, the Strensall Community and Robert Wilkinson School, a treehouse was thoughtfully designed and built for Jake.

Playscheme started the project in March 2017, with our Managing Director, Steve Danby, meeting with Jake’s family and the school. In the new term, the school, the family and the community of Strensall all worked together to start fundraising in Jake’s name. Jake’s family wished to build something that would be there for a long time and that would give back to his friends and peers.

The fundraising began in March with a target of £25,000. The generosity of others was phenomenal, with members of the community holding bake sales and taking part in marathons, triathlons and bike rides to raise money for the treehouse. An amazing total of £31,000 was raised, with the remaining money being donated to two charities close to the hearts of Jake’s family.

Creating a space in memory of Jake

Playscheme wanted to capture the family’s ideas so it was important that our expert design team worked closely with the family and the school to create the perfect space in memory of Jake.

We designed a space to be elevated off the ground with a raised walkway, tree platform, clatter bridge and a sensory gazebo and named it ‘Jake’s Treehouse’. The gazebo was designed as an educational and recreational outdoor space for children to learn and play.

Jake’s personality is reflected in the quirky angles, which give a sense of his liveliness and enthusiasm. The coloured windows and lantern style sky light allow coloured and natural light to flood into the gazebo, creating a light space perfect for playing or learning. A mystical and magical appearance has also been created through the use of the angled windows and the cedar shingles. The extended posts along the walkway and platform are perfect for hanging bunting or for building dens.

The pupils were involved with the building of the space, with Steve Danby visiting the school before the official opening of Jake’s treehouse to help install a river bed with a few of the pupils of Robert Wilkinson Primary Academy.

The Installation

A planting space was also included in the area, and on the opening day, families brought along beautiful flowers to plant in memory of Jake. The installation was completed before the children returned to school, and the official opening date was the 23rd of September.

The project is a testament to what a community can do when they get behind a family to support them. Jake’s family and the school continue to fundraise for Dravet Syndrome UK and York Inspirational Kids.

In 2019, Playscheme became the first ever recipient of the Young People’s Choice York Design Award for its work on Jake’s Treehouse. The accolade, voted for by school children and under 18s, is in recognition of Playscheme’s work to create an outdoor play space in memory of four-year-old Jake Smith.