As the need for playful outdoor spaces becomes more of a priority to schools and other educational facilities, the indoor environments we design are slowly starting to mimic the natural environments that surround them. We asked Karen to talk through the elements of play that exist in and around a few recent projects and unpack the ways that play has informed the design.
Exploration at Ogden Elementary School
“We don’t design in a vacuum - we work with a whole village of people,” Karen says. “Learning and play go together. For us, play is a way of bringing the expertise of educators, landscape architects and consultants, and us together on solutions that we’re all excited about. From a planning standpoint, we’re looking at ways to incorporate nature play into the site, trying to take advantage of the trees and the areas by building them into the playground.”
Discover and Wonder in the EPS Prototype Schools
“The learning stair sets a tone and provides a transition from the social commons to the academic commons. As they move into the classroom wing, they’ll find alcoves where students can write on the walls, reading nooks and sitting areas. Around every corner, there’s something a little different and the possibility to explore,” Karen continues.
Karen concludes, saying that the “experience of discovery and wonder is so important to the learning experience. We go to great lengths to support this with spatial variety and different types of seating, classroom configurations, viewpoints and learning tools. All of these things together help create a learning environment that feels like an invitation to engage and connect with the space.”
As our week of ‘play’ focused articles draws to a close, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the inherently collaborative nature of our work. Our sincere thanks to Jane and Mary from Columbia Play Project, Jane Tesner Kleiner from nature+play+designs, and all of the teachers, administrators, and representatives from our local school districts.