Category Children’s Spaces

Water conveyance for gardening and nature study

Experiencing the schoolyard site as a dynamic setting was a key dimension of the winning solutions in the 13-acres competition. The lower mainland of British Columbia receives on average 200 mm of rainfall per year. This abundant waterfall is typically captured at the surface and then piped underground where it is discharged at locations remote from where it once fell. In particular, the jury was interested in finding solutions that would use this rainfall as a source of learning and community activity. In Nicholas Gilsouls’s LesJardins D’East Clayton, Gilsoul modifies the rooftops of the school buildings so that they collect and transport water to the community gardens, intended for local residential and school use...


Healthy competition

In the spring of 2000, I received funding from the Hampton Foundation, the University of British Columbia’s James Taylor Chair, and the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia to study how the schoolyard could serve as a community resource. This research resulted in orchestrating the 13-acres international design competition. This competition involved the design of schoolyards as ‘green knowledge’ sites for children, teachers, and the surrounding community. One of the primary goals of the competition was to inspire people who design children’s environments to explore the schoolyard as an untapped site for ecological rejuvenation and environmental education...


Zoom out

The Los Altos School District, located south of San Francisco in Northwest Santa Clara County, has one of the highest ranked Academic Performance Index (API) records and the highest Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores in the state of California. With a population of 3950 students and an anticipated population that will exceed 4500 students by 2008, Los Altos is in the process of upgrading its school facilities as one of its five major long-term goals. Gelfand RNP Architects of

San Francisco began work in 1999 to update the District’s eight campuses. These are six elementary (kindergarten to sixth grade) schools which include Almond, Bullis-Purissima, Loyola, Oak, Santa Rita, and Springer; and two intermediate (seventh and eighth grade) schools, Blach and Egan...


Think big, act small

It is precisely these questions that we sought to answer in the Yard to Garden intervention project at the Child Development Laboratory at Iowa State University. This project involved child development specialists from the laboratory who collaborated with me to design landscape situations that would fulfil specific developmental milestones of the children (two to six years old) attending the
laboratory school. A significant difference between Yard to Garden and the Infant Garden, was the ‘intervention’ nature of the installation. Unlike the complete redesign of the play space at the Infant Garden, the Yard to Garden research project involved the placement of temporary and permanent landscape elements in the existing play yards of the laboratory...


Think of the yard as a landscape

The following sections describe five projects that I have been involved with that concern landscapes
created for children at childcare centres and schools. Each project is an experiment and a discovery for myself and the people involved in their own landscapes. What I describe here reflects only one perspective of the process required to create landscapes for children, and this is the view of the designer. There are other voices that are vital to the design process that include the children, parents, collaborating designers, administrators, maintenance staff, unions, and school boards. I am greatly indebted to the individuals and groups that have made and are making these landscapes possible.

In North America, elementary school-aged children spend up to two hundred days per year at school, ...


The sustainable landscape

Susan Herrington

Editor’s introduction

In the spring of 2000, Susan Herrington received funding to study how the schoolyard could serve as a community resource. As part of her work as a landscape designer and as an academic deeply involved in developing theories of children’s environmental awareness, she decided to run an international competition to encourage new ideas about the design of schoolyards as ‘green knowledge’ sites for children, teachers and the surrounding community.‘13-acres’ asked designers to step outside conventional thinking and design to more naturalized schoolyards that incorporate both play and learning...


Negligence and getting risk in perspective

In startling contrast to the compensation culture referred to at the start of this chapter and from a superficial reading of the literature, it appears currently fashionable in Britain to underplay the potentially lethal or crippling aspects of risk in relation to children’s play space and a single statement can be taken as being indicative of a growing mood:

Exposure to real risk in playgrounds provides beneficial learning experience and a sought after thrill.22

If this were a single and perhaps perverse interpretation of children’s aspirations and needs then it might be dismissed as simply another mistaken minority view, but weightier authorities make much the same point...


The characteristics of accessible and inclusive play equipment

A very high priority in the design procedure should be that of seeking to anticipate and fully conform to the requirements of The Disability Discrimination Act 1995, fully implemented in October 2004. Unrestricted physical access is essential. In all areas of risk – which may arise from moving parts, swings, environmental hazards, unexpected obstacles, chain walks, ‘stepping stones’, dizzy discs or wheeled activities, skate boards, bikes and roller blades, pools and standing water, steep drops or steps – surface texture changes such as a broad gravel surrounding area or other tactile indicators should be in place to give warnings or reminders of risk to those with disabilities.

Detailed and specific advice on this topic can be found in Hicks...


Equipment and surfacing

Among the complaints relating to playground design and management is the fact that the play equipment industry seldom produces new or exciting variants on old ideas; the influence of the ‘compensation culture’ is also often blamed for this. This view does not bear close analysis. If there is an absence of originality in design and marketing, this is largely due to market leaders in possession of a comfortable market share and an absence of innovative entrants into the field. For new entrants it is all too easy to make a comfortable living from discreet versions of proven designs. There is, in any event, a limit on innovation in the mechanisms available, but in the materials field, the manufacturing industry has made spectacular changes in recent times...


Playground design

The first consideration must be that of meeting or exceeding the minimum statutory requirements relating to the provision of play space, first in regard to safety and suitability but then in relation to accessibility and the inclusion of all. The second is to consult potential users and their communities. Here it needs to be borne in mind that children, when consulted, can adopt a realistic and shrewd approach to expressing needs, but are as liable to be readily persuaded as their parents to adopt either the latest trend or an entirely traditional approach to play space. Sometimes both groups may, for understandable reasons, fail to take into account wider community interests and priorities.

Playgrounds tend to serve particular groups and communities and seldom, except in holiday resorts, ...