The original play space was terraced in three levels and was full of fixed equipment that made supervision on the site an issue. The first level, where the building meets the outdoor area, was mostly a hard expanse of concrete, before the site stepped up into a more natural mulched area.
Access between the levels was challenging for teachers and children. Consequently, a lot of the play space was underutilized and created over-use pressures in other areas.
The design for the revamped centre focused on the removal of all existing equipment. This opened up the site and allowed much-needed visibility up to the terraces. It also allowed for better visual connections between the different age zones.
The hard areas closest to the building were upgraded with new surfacing. Pour’n’Play was used as an outer bike/running track with Cool Grass turf areas within. This helped define the spaces between the flexible play setup and the circuiting areas. Both surfaces provide the required safety surfacing and meet New Zealand Critical Fall Height standards.
Cool Grass was chosen as the artificial turf type due to the lack of shade in the play areas. Its unique curve-blade design provides a cooler surface in hotter weather than regular turf systems.
With the removal of the old play equipment, it was important that play be added back in through the design for the remodeled space.
This was achieved through the addition of sloped mounds with slides and climbing equipment that connect the different terraced levels. This surface not only helps provide a direct connection between the levels, but also provides a playable surface where children can initiate their own play challenge.
The centre has found that the play space design has helped reduce noise on the site, partly due to surfacing and partly due to spreading the play areas from previously concentrated spots to the entirety of the available area.
Teachers have noticed less aggression in the children’s play and feel the site has provided a more engaging space for play.
The site’s size and level changes presented a challenge to the overall design and budget. But with the smart use of multipurpose surfacing, these were overcome, and the separate play spaces were linked. The result is a play space that provides a range of different play experiences and challenges for the children of the centre.
September 25, 2019
Early Learning Centre