Learning and exploring the natural environment in a low maintenance, flexible playspace
The University of Auckland required a new daycare facility to be delivered quickly as the existing daycare building was on a site that was to be redeveloped for a multi-storey University building.
The University sought an outdoor play area that had a natural feel, which would also be low maintenance and have spaces for both under two-year-old and over two up to five-year-old children. Boffa Miskell was invited by Greenstone Group, the University of Auckland and Jasmax to join the team they were putting together to design a new daycare facility.
Jasmax knew of Boffa Miskell’s expertise in this field and our approach when developing an outdoor playspace for a preschool. Sarah Collins, Landscape Architect, says “We seek to provide a space which is as flexible as possible, and which will allow the teaching staff to set the area up in different ways, thereby maximising the opportunity for learning in their outdoor environment.”
The biggest challenge was completing the project on time given the discovery of contaminated ground on site. All topsoil needed to be excavated out and replaced. The contamination also led to the removal of all the existing trees. We needed to deliver a playspace which was natural and would allow children to explore natural areas despite the removal of all existing vegetation says Sarah.
We retained around a quarter of the site, which was retopsoiled mulched and planted. A number of large grade trees and shrubs were planted, with additional shrubs and grasses to create a slightly wild feel and would also allow the children to explore within these. Within the area there is a small whare and a stone circle for play and sitting, a circular deck for play activities, stepping logs and balancing beams.
There is space for a raised vegetable garden bed in a sunny corner. Three sandpits allow children of different ages to play separately, set within a large deck area for sand and waterplay, with sheds for outdoor storage, a flexible set up area for boxes and connecting equipment, a path for bikes and trolleys on a turnaround loop. Free flowing access directly out from the covered outdoor area around the building offer an invitation to go out to play and explore.
Landscape Architects, Playspace Designers
|Client||University of Auckland|
|Project team||Sarah Collins|
Greenstone Group Project Managers
Barker Associates Planners
Building Contractor Stanley Group with Craftsman Gardener Services subcontracted to construct the outdoor area