Green Dragon Primary School – Middlesex
Green Dragon Primary School is situated on the North Bank of the Thames, close to Kew Bridge, Middlesex. They were looking to redevelop their outdoor provision within their Nursery.
The space available for outdoor provision at the nursery was limited, but Green Dragon Primary School wanted it to achieve a number of objectives, providing a dedicated space for bikes and wheeled toys, elements for physical development, open space for freely determined play and pockets of space for quieter activities. The design also had to incorporate the existing digging mud pit and vegetable plots, and although the space was small the school was keen to include elements of sand and water play if possible.
The landscape designer visited the space and took the time to understand which elements in the existing space worked and how the space could be improved as a whole to facilitate playful learning. The nursery had a figure of 8 bike track which worked very effectively so was retained within the new design. This bike track includes zebra crossings and road markings, so is good for creative and role play opportunities.
With a limited budget the design included a natural water channel which is filled by the staff and children, transporting water utilising play resources to the channel. Once there it can be manipulated down the channel into a pool, which the children can empty at will using a plug.
The sand play feature is within the bike track. This small space is utilised effectively with a pebble play scape and natural boulders to create beach –like, learning space.
The play space also includes landscapes mounds to provide height, planting and artificial grass, to provide an area for free, unstructured play. It is also a perfect space for carrying out group physical exercises with each class.
The small pockets of space have been carefully considered to create different opportunities, a hammock provides both relaxation, or underneath, a den. Balancing beams help sharpen physical skills and spark the imagination for creative play.
The design also included additional elements that the nursery could add over time and they have already constructed their own mud kitchen.
• Design utilises small space to create flexible open ended, self-directed play.
• Positioning of bike track, sand and water encourages consideration of other space users, and zebra crossings help promote good road safety.
• Including some water play helps children understand the flow and control of water, and encouraging transportation of their own water supply from nearby tap.
• Proximity of sand to water encourages experimentation with combining these elements, learning how water affects the properties of sand.
• Grass mound helps children develop balance skills and movement skills.
• Small play pockets perfect for quiet communication, reflection and creative play.
• Retaining veg plots through design supports understanding of the origins of food and healthy eating.
• Balancing beams and mounds nurtures physical development.
• Bark pit offers sensory exploration, loose parts play and transportation.
• Open ended and flexible space, that many children can use at the same time.
Equipment: Water plug, balance beams, hammock.
Landscaping: Natural water channel and pool, bike track with zebra crossing, pebble playscape, natural boulders, sand area, timber rounds, artificial grass & moundings, bark pit, sensory planting.
What the client said…
“Our outdoor space looks so much better than it did previously and provides a greater variety of physical challenge. The outdoor space previously only really provided the physical challenge of the bike track, but now they can roll and run down the mound, balance along the beams or clamber into the hammock. The artificial grass performs exceptionally well as it does not become muddy after heavy showers, so can be used all the time.”