Using natural elements and materials, Earthartist Planning and Design incorporates playful and intricate topography, creative stonework, geometric shapes and designs that have intrinsic learning opportunities that create safe play environments that delight and challenge children emotionally, physically, and mentally.
The industrial era’s cookie-cutter approach to playground equipment does not map well to today’s complex social needs. Today’s children need to be inspired to become creative problem solvers and intellectual risk takers so that they are prepared for the world of the 21st century. Modern learning and play spaces will either inhibit or support and enhance such a modern approach. And while every playspace will reflect the unique needs of its community, there are sound design principles to guide the creation of environments that truly promote kind of experience on which children will thrive.
So what does such an environment look like?
Respond to the Context:
Create a reciprocal relationship between the building facilities and the outdoor learning environment. The layout and age groupings of play spaces should complement and enhance the school’s internal circulation and organization.
Create a Strong Frame with Trees:
In addition to spatially enclosing the play area and creating a pleasing park-like aesthetic, trees are critically important in addressing the serious safety issue of sun protection. Establish a logical and functional tree planting strategy.
Everything Should be Multi-Use:
Avoid single-use features. Play equipment, surfaces, spaces and layout should facilitate a variety of programmed and un-programmed activities.
Enhance the Natural Environment:
Children learn from and enjoy natural places. Create an environment where children can participate in the growth and development of ‘their’ play space. Reflect and enhance the forest character of the site, play areas should be integrated with the natural context of the surrounding forest areas.
Full Season Play:
Develop strategies for year round use and enjoyment of the playground. Create opportunities that highlight the seasonal change.
Consider unused or underutilized spaces within and around the existing play area. Free-up space or join underutilized spaces together to better optimize the site.
Equipment and Props:
Provide opportunities for the use and storage of equipment, toys and tools.
Accessibility and Active Play:
Ensure accessibility to all major play spaces for children with different physical abilities. Make accessibility an active play opportunity for all children.
Reshape the Ground:
Establish a strategy to reshape the site topography to create non-programmed spaces of varying scales and types that will encourage children to exercise their imagination. Berms, hills and other playful ground configurations create a powerful invitation to play.
Safety and Security:
Ensure all proposed changes and developments meet the latest safety codes and guides. Maintain and enhance opportunities for observation and supervision. Minimize hard surface areas.
Cost Effective Design:
Employ simple and modest means to affect significant change.
To maximize the play value of every square meter of your site by incorporating playscape features that address key child developmental factors while providing a broad range of play and learning opportunities.
To create a fun, safe and accessible playground which encourages a wide range of play styles and exciting learning opportunities for children of varied personalities and abilities.
To realize your ‘vision’ by applying:
- our knowledge, experience and understanding of creative play
- our ability to take full advantage of a site’s natural features and physical environment
- our expertise and track record in the art of innovative natural playscape design
- our knowledge and experience in landscape construction and playground safety regulations.
- our understanding of and experience in incorporating the respective regulations and requirements of CSA Standards for Children’s Playspaces and “Annex H” Guidelines for Children’s Play Space Accessibility