Anderson Field, Adamsdown, Cardiff

Anderson Field, Adamsdown, Cardiff


The vision for this project was to create a new park with a variety of play facilities out of an empty, flat field. Artist Andrew Small was selected to collaborate with landscape architect Ian Maddox on the overall design of the park and to create bespoke play structures.


In October 2006, a report ‘Opportunities for Public Art in Adamsdown’ was commissioned by Cardiff Council to identify opportunities for public art in Adamsdown. Consultation was carried out with the local people of Adamsdown over a three month period and the report identified particular sites and themes for public art, which included suggestions that:

• The work should be uniquely created for the area
• The work, no matter what format it takes, should endeavour to be interactive in some way e.g. kinetic art, tactile art, evolving or changing work
• It should not be a traditional image of public art i.e. Bronze figures/statues like in Queens Street
• The work should challenge or push the viewer, and not be afraid to make a statement
• Sufficient time is taken in the development process of artwork to ensure that the community can build a sense of ownership towards it.


In the summer of 2007 Cardiff County Council embarked on a project to transform an empty field in Adamsdown into a valuable amenity for the local community.

Artist Andrew Small was appointed to collaborate with landscape architect Ian Maddox on the overall design of the new park. Their task was to make the flat open space, used primarily by dog walkers and rarely used by children to play, into a flexible park and play area. The Council held a number of consultation events to find out what the local community wanted and did not want within the scheme.

Among other needs and constraints, Andrew Small and Ian Maddox aimed to create:

• sheltered spaces, since the field was windswept at times
• a designated space for children to play, where dog walkers would not go
• a defined ‘kick about’ area which allowed enough space for a game of football but which could also be safely walked around by others using the park
• creative play equipment aimed at a younger age group (11 and under)
• pathways and seating so that the whole of the space would be used
The result is a park with three main areas:
1. a defined play area at the front (along Constellation Road) with play structures designed and made by Andrew Small on a child safe surface;
2. a kick about area in the middle of the field with low mounding around it on both sides to define the space and protect people walking along the path from finding themselves in the middle of a game!
3. A less formal play area at the back of the field with a high mound incorporating a slide and other structures around it for climbing, swinging and jumping off.

Having developed a number of concept designs for various play structures, Andrew Small was commissioned to create two of them and consulted with a Health and Safety specialist at the detailed design stage. Andrew then fabricated these two structures which he called the Spending Time Machine and the Triphid. The Spending Time Machine is a curved wooden platform with a series of stainless steel arches above it as a roof. Children climb inside it and on top of it, and slide and run up and down the curved surface. It can be anything they want it to be – a space ship, a boat, a house, a den, a tunnel, a submarine, a cave and so on. It is a structure which allows their imagination free rein.

The Triphid is a climbing and balancing structure in galvanised steel, painted a deep blue. The tentacles can be climbed, swung on, walked along, and the soft ‘wet pour’ surface on the ground ensures that children can be more adventurous and risk falling off. The coloured patterns on the soft surface complement the Triphid and can form part of its use in a game.

These days, at the time when the school day has just finished you’ll see many children making full use of Anderson Field, whereas before the park was created, it would have been an empty site.