The Garden Consultants were engage to design a refurbishment for the children’s outdoor play area at One World for Children. The centre was lucky to have a large outdoor space with huge possibilities. The stone lined sandpits and a lone shrub were the sole survivors in the much loved and used playground catering for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. This unique child care facility is filled with light and brightly coloured art. Management at the centre decided the outdoor play space for the child care family grouping garden should match the newly refurbished interior of the centre.
The design brief for the centre was based on two main drivers, ‘Experience’ and ‘Form’. The experiential elements in the garden are the primary focus, engaging all the senses of the children. The forms also needed to be simple and accessible to the children and promote imagination and creativity in play. Abstract shapes and natural elements such as rocks or logs were chosen for their huge potential for play and creativity. Children also learn negotiation, expression and other social skills through the process of commandeering and re-purposing equipment and play spaces. The guiding ethos behind the design is that children come with inbuilt creativity, curiosity and a desire to learn and play. The refurbishment of the outdoor play area is intended to provide an environment that gets out of the way of and celebrates this natural process.
Extensive planting has been completed which unifies the diverse garden areas, hardy plant varieties were very important with all the little hands and feet running around. The planting also needed to offer more though, with a range of textures, colours and fragrances chosen. The planting along with the limited pallet of materials, cypress, granite, stainless steel and tinted perspex, allowed for an uncluttered feel to the space. The children bring enough colour through their play, toys and clothing to any space so we avoided using strong or clashing colours in the design which also helped relax the space.
One of the main elements that enabled the success of this space was the role of play in the design and construction of the garden. We used architectural and 3D modelling to physically test out ideas and were actively on site constructing activity stations such as a the water wall. This approach gave us a great insight into how the children would interact with and play in the garden, teasing out and improving the design by exploring various options. As children are incredibly varied in interests and personalities this garden needed to incorporate areas of play that would allow for and encourage this diversity. This was addressed though the activity stations and a blending of robust elements for active play and detailed elements for exploratory and investigative play. Areas were also sectioned off for quiet time and more passive play experiences.
Gazebo Sculpture featuring bells and tinted perspex
Tunnel walk with clear plastic tubes filled with a variety of interesting materials
Water Play Wall
Timber slab path
Bucket and Pulley with textured sound screen behind
The Whirly Gig on the Gazebo Sculpture casts moving coloured shadows on the ground for the children to investigate.
Mud kitchen bathed in coloured light from tinted perspex screens
The Orchard Lawn has cottage garden planting and is a passive no running or ball play space
Natural Log Climbing and Balancing Frame
Circle Reading Deck
Details to investigate are just as important as a physically robust design
Sheoak Forest, Triangle Deck and Dramatic Play Woven Screen
The Sun Tunnel and and Log Stacker offer more passive play options for the children
The Tactile Steps lead up to the Slide Mound offer an example of robust and detailed design working together
The Sound Wall, while not exactly a wall, makes a tremendous soundscape from recycled materials.
The Hand Water Pump and dry creek bed has been a huge success with the children
The story was released as a children’s story by Dick Roughsey in 1992 and is used here to help unify and add a narrative to the new garden space for the children.
This project commenced construction in mid November and was completed in mid February 2015. More images are available on our project blog page and on our One World for Children album on Facebook, you’re welcome to follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with this and all of our other projects. If you would like more information about this or any of our products our contact details can be found here or email us via the link below.