The development at White Rock was to transform a disused piece of high ground to maximise the secure space available to the children but to also enhance the outdoor learning and play experience. Due to the coastal location the winds coupled with a lack of natural shade meant that a consideration of the weather was an essential element of the brief. A second key factor was access, the high ground had to be accessible to all of the school’s students.
Natural turf and an artificial carpet pathway were used to provide a play surface that offered a tactile experience for sitting, rolling and lying. The planting of a five metre long willow tunnel further enhanced the tactile experience and provided a shady area for the children to play safely. The requirement to provide an outdoor educational resource was supplemented by the implementation of the natural materials, further planters were added to the area to allow the students to nurture and maintain this key element.
The use of our timber furniture in the area added to the tactile and natural experience we wanted to create. The choice of products again led to an enhancement of the learning experience for a variety of ages within the school. A giant storytelling circle provided a cross curricular resource, and the woodcutters cottage completed the imaginary journey of the younger users along the red path and through the willow tunnel.
A timber ramp was constructed and installed to access the area. This provided practicality and provision for all. From the children’s feedback the sound and touch of the ramp as they began their exploration onto the higher ground served to heighten their play experience.