Can Landscape Design Truly Affect the Way Our Children Learn

Top Landscape Design Tips

Depending on whether one is looking for a combination of play and nature-based learning or outdoor learning in a constructed natural environment, there are a number of key elements to consider:

  • Look to use landscape and vegetation as the play setting
  • Create an informal and naturalistic environment to stimulate free play and discovery learning
  • Ensure seamless integration between indoor and outdoor
  • Design on different levels and look to include plenty of nooks and crannies
  • Use natural materials such as water, sand, stone, wood and plants set within a robust structure
  • Build outdoor teaching spaces with fixed seating and shade structures

Landscape is important as a place for play but most importantly as a place to play in nature.

There is an opportunity for schools to play a vital part in restoring children’s access to play in nature, with measurable, cognitive development improvement. Schools of the future that offer this type of experience will have a marked advantage over those that do not.

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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 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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