With only asphalt and turf to play on, this flat school yard with no playground and very little shade desperately needed upgrading. Through a comprehensive engagement process, we worked closely with the students, the parent council, and the school board to gather input for the design. This informed the development of a unique design that offers an abundance of opportunities for play and outdoor learning.
One unique challenge for this design/build process was making sure the final product met the diverse requirements of the many stakeholder groups. A climbing boulder, rolling hills, and clusters of stumps give the students exciting places to run, climb, and jump. Quieter seating areas, an amphitheatre space, and a dedicated gardening area give teachers places to bring lessons and curriculum outdoors at any time of the school day. Selecting native and hardy plant species, and ensuring the design included vehicle access to the sports field beyond ensured the play space would not increase the school board’s maintenance costs. Densely planted shrubs and trees unify the space, offer shade throughout, and help create a buffer between the playground and Hamilton’s busy Main St that runs parallel to the site. Combining the many different ideas of what a playground needed to be was an exciting challenge for our design team.