08 Sep Landscapes Of Learning
The importance of play to promote connectedness to nature has been well researched and documented. At Natural Habitats we couldn’t agree more; so far this year we have been involved in the design and build of over a dozen educational landscapes.
These projects range from early childhood centres to primary and secondary schools such as Aorere Day Care and College, Montessori Preschool St Peters in Cambridge and Ormiston Senior College, New Zealand’s first 5 Green Star School.
At the beginning of this year we completed the design and build of Mauku Primary School. The school’s new grounds utilise spatial hierarchies and transitional connections between areas, to create a cohesive space with a range of functions.
Vibrant concentric concrete paths which create play eddies; rain swales, which collect storm water and drain into the fields; a beautifully crafted circular deck and native planting palette complete with fruiting trees, all encourage environmental learning and play, and most importantly the kids love it!
The students wrote to thank us “for designing their cool school” and to assure us that they “are going to look after their new gardens because they are beautiful.”
This concept of nature play was also integrated into the landscape design at Te Kohanaga Reo O Kakariki Marae in March.
“Nature play enables children to engage with natural processes, grow and harvest food, use native plants for medicinal purposes, learn about pollination, insects, bird life and engage with nature through their imaginations” says Natural Habitats Registered Landscape Architect Debbie Tikao.
By creating a diversity of places and habitats for children we wish to provide them with the maximum opportunity for interaction with others and the environment.
By considering the landscape’s potential for rich sensory input, flexible furnishing and endless possibilities for exploration, we can be confident that what we are teaching children when they are not being taught is a valuable lesson!