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Project information

The Look Out Centre in Hyde Park

Our vision is to create a new children's education centre in the heart of Hyde Park so that thousands of city children can learn about the natural world and how to care for it. The building will be sustainably built and will be a living tool to learn about the environment and new technologies.

July 2010 - July 2011

Charity information: Royal Parks Foundation

Royal Parks Foundation logo
  • Need


    With increasing urbanisation, it is becoming even more important that young people connect with nature and learn about the value of our natural world.

    The current classrooms in Hyde Park are converted police dog kennels. They are cold in winter, hot in summer, lack toilets and have now become unfit for use. New facilities are vital if school children are to continue to visit the Parks to learn, amongst other things, about wildlife, the seasons, life cycles, history and the environment.


    The new Look Out centre wil have two classrooms, each holding 30 children, and will be open all year round. Only 1,000 children per annum could visit the old centre but this will increase to over 7,000 per annum in the new Look Out.

    The new facilities will make it easier to demonstrate new technologies and to help young people to understand the value of the environment and the need to look after it.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Complete the new building and welcome the first classes of children by July 2011


    » - The building and surrounding nature trails to be complete by July 2011
    » - A dedicated education team, including additional volunteers, to be trained and in place by July 2011
    » - A programme of activities developed for weekdays, weekends and adult evening classes

    What success will look like

    Success will be completing and equipping the classrooms, having a developed programme of activities with 200 bookings in year 1 and the team to carry them out.

    Aim 2

    - Create an eco-building with nature trails, minibeast areas and dipping ponds for fun and learning


    » - Build with sustainably sourced materials, including new technologies such as ground-source heating, solar panels and PV cells as learning tools

    What success will look like

    Success will be a real, live building that entrances young people as soon as they enter, plus surrounding areas that draw them like a magnet to play and learn at the same time

  • Impact


    The project will increase the number of children attending from 1,000 to 7,000 in the medium-term and more in the long-term as the centre gets established. It will enable secondary school children, adults and community groups to use the centre too.

    The project is a pilot that, if successful, can be rolled out into the other Parks.

    Success will be defined as a building working at full capacity, including some commercial activities (evenings and weekends), to help fund the education work.


    There is a risk that planning permission would be refused. We consulted with local authorities and stakeholders, including the existing team of volunteers, who are vital to the new building. Westminster has granted planning and the volunteer team have been helping with fundraising activities.

    There is a risk that the necessary funding would not be raised. We launched the Isis Campaign, where donors can dedicate a plaque at a new sculpture on the Serpentine. This is proving very successful.


    Funders receive a twice-yearly magazine including features on the Look Out. They will also receive regular verbal and emailed updates as landmark moments are achieved (first ground broken etc). They will be invited to view progress as the building rises and to contribute their ideas to the education

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £2,036,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £1,200,000 Building New Building
      £200,000 Landscaping Soft & Hard Landscaping
      £105,000 Classroom Classroom Fit Out x 2
      £426,000 Public facility Public Toilets/facilities
      £105,000 Restoration Gatehouse restoration

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Isis Campaign £500,000 Guaranteed
    Individuals £250,000 Guaranteed
    Trusts and Foundations £181,500 Guaranteed
    Corporate £100,000 Guaranteed
    Royal Parks £530,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The Look Out Centre is in the heart of Hyde Park in central London. The site is just under 1 acre in size.


    Currently, school children from 7 local London boroughs attend the Look Out. 86% of the children are from state primary schools, who are charged £3 per head to attend the centre. The new centre will welcome classes from further afield - although we anticipate that the majority will come from within the M25. It wil also welcome a new audience of secondary school students, plus adults.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    The Look Out has been running successfully for over a decade and the team is experienced and enthusiastic about engaging young people with the natural world. The Royal Parks Foundation board of trustees and the Royal Parks estates department have the necessary skills to ensure that the building work is carried out on time and within budget.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Toni Assirati

    Toni is Head of Education for The Royal Parks. She has huge experience of delivering education activities across the 5,000 acres of the Parks.

    Nick Lane

    Nick is Education Officer for the Royal Parks. He brings lessons magically alive and cares for the volunteer team