Natural play area Design
The link between sensory gardens, dementia gardens and natural playgrounds is biophilic design. We design nature back in to cities, in workplaces, homes, schools and hospitals. Overwhelming evidence links nature, health and well-being.
Our salutogenic design approach reduces cost, aids mental health and promotes active, healthy lifestyles...As an evidence based design practice we actively research the impact of our Natural play and sensory play developments. Sandpits, digging areas, water play, trees to climb - the fun stuff of childhood - is becoming increasingly important in early childhood centres, school playgrounds and public playgrounds alike. As public funding has shrunk health and inequality concerns have risen, requiring playground designers to incorporate many more elements than just play equipment. Better value for money, and similar or reduced maintenance costs, are a feature of our natural play spaces.
Natural playgrounds are sustainable playgrounds. Sustainable playgrounds design promotes sustainable communities. Picnic areas with edible, playable planting that encourage families to linger and enjoy inclusive outdoor play opportunities will complement healthy eating at home.
As climate changes, shade trees in natural play areas are becoming increasingly important. Edible fruit trees around playgrounds provide shade, scented blossom, add bio diversity and importantly will add to locally produced food stocks, promoting healthy living,healthy eating.
Early Childhood development requires activities such as climbing, swinging, balancing to develop gross motor and then fine motor skills. Imaginative play can happen anywhere we allow it. Loose parts play offers opportunities for children to take something and re-purpose it. A recycling bin becomes a den, a snail's house, a seat, a climbing platform, a stepping stone, a sledge, depending on the whim of the child. The bin is not a toy, or a piece of equipment designed for play, but affords opportunities for play. Where play designers are encouraged to provide cost effective designs, where there is less playground equipment but more flexible open ended play, the space is adaptable and the environment suggestive. Public playground design, like school playground design, can and should accommodate these needs.
"To begin with questions of play equipment is to start in the wrong place. It would be alarming if an architect began a design for a house by inviting the client to choose the sofas" Sandra Melville, in Places for Play.
"Without any additional equipment the children have greater freedom born from better communications, consensus of what play … should be like, shared expectations about behaviour, greater understanding because parents, children and lunchtime staff have all had a chance to say what it's like for them. This has arisen from changes in attitude and practice e.g. its OK to get muddy… "
“... very often it’s the more stripped down, inexpensive schemes which work best - we have much to learn ...about how to avoid overcomplicating schemes and creating additional costs through the over specification of materials, street furniture and lighting. .”Paul Quinn Regeneration manager, West Northamptonshire Development Corporation
"Almost all the parks I visited incorporated facilities, such as BBQs, to encourage people to gather in them, rather than worrying that it might lead to anti-social behaviour, whilst the towns themselves had excellent cycling infrastructure allowing easy access to their open spaces.” Michael Rowland Parks policy officer, Bournemouth Borough Council
" Unless we are willing to encourage our children to RECONNECT with and appreciate the natural world, we can't expect them to help protect and care for it" David Suzuki
> care homes / dementia care
> inclusive play
> special needs
> school grounds design
> Professional Development
Greenstone Design Limited is a company registered in New Zealand No 373 2566
Registered Office: 384 Minchins Rd, Sheffield, NZ 7580.
GST registration No 108 766 034