Can Landscape Design Truly Affect the Way Our Children Learn


The problem is exacerbated by the concern today that children are also suffering from ‘nature deficit syndrome.’ This is once again largely due to our rapidly urbanising communities, which are leading to a loss of natural or even green environments, as well as the lure of technology taking preference over going out to explore the natural world and parental fears – brought on by societal concerns – about kids being outside unsupervised.

Traditionally, our schoolyards have not helped. The typical schoolyard consists of asphalt and steel playground structures. Both inside and outside the classroom, children’s lives are much more structured and supervised than before, with less time to explore nature even where available.

But there is the emerging concept of eco-psychology: the idea that humans have an affinity with their environment. Research demonstrates that our environment affects both our physical and mental health.

Recent findings suggest:

  • Children who regularly play in natural environments have cognitive development two years more advanced that those who don’t
  • Primary school children who undergo nature-based programs show improvement in their concentration, communication with peers, creative problem solving, creativity and cognitive ability
  • Concern for the environment is based on affection for nature that only develops with regular and unchecked contact with it
  • Natural playgrounds have academic benefits because outdoor play fosters a sense of wonder that serves as a motivator for life long learning
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March 7, 2012

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Your take on New Urbanism
Like most movements, New Urbanism developed out of a need for change. In this case it was a growing concern about the way our cities, in particular our sprawling suburbs, were developing. These concerns were valid 20 years ago when new urbanism got going, and unfortunately are still pretty valid and relevant today.

New urbanism was first known as 'Neo-traditional' planning. I think this remains its greatest criticism in that it tends to hark back to the good old days and instead of stopping at simply adopting good planning principles from that time, it sometimes goes too far and promotes neo-traditional architecture as well. As a movement, it then comes under fire because it is seen as being more about aesthetics rather than fundamental design principles.

The principles of New Urbanism certainly have a place in our suburban landscape. However it is imperative that as designers we ensure site responsive and contextually appropriate solutions. We should insist that development reflects a local vernacular and looks to the future, not just the past.

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  • Reply landscape supply landscape supply March 3, 2012 at 6:42 am

    Oh joyous day yes. This is the one reason I was born.
    To find you, my long lost knowledge seeking soul-mate.

  • Reply Landscaper Brisbane Landscaper Brisbane March 3, 2012 at 6:42 am

    Yeah, you are right I think landscape are the best for our children to learn some thing more.

  • Reply Berneche2 Architecture Berneche2 Architecture March 3, 2012 at 6:42 am

    Excellent article. Here in the States, probably there too, fear of lawsuits renders playground design to where the gate might as well bear a sign reading " sanitized for your/our protection.".

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