The space was designed to have two separate areas to cater for children aged between 0 to 2 and 2 to 5 years. Although they are separated, the design ensures a visual connection between the two areas. The focus for both areas was to create flexible outdoor spaces that provide a safe but challenging environment, where confidence and learning can flourish.
The Creo design team worked with the clients from the initial concept process, then oversaw the construction of the design. This process ensured the original design intent was carried throughout the project.
Due to the size and height constraints of the site, the design aimed to utilise every bit of available space and allow for easy access around the outdoor areas and between the two levels in the site. This was achieved by connecting two levels with a sloped play area. The slope is surfaced with Numat Pour‘n’Play, a certified safety surface, allowing for the inclusion of an in-ground slide, rope climb, and rock climbing grips. This not only provides upper body challenges, sliding and hill play but allows free-flowing play to occur between the two levels, as well exciting play opportunities.
The Pour‘n’Play sloped surface transitions at the lower level into a flat landscape turfed area. This greener area is also a safety surface and allows for different activity play configurations to occur.
To the other side of the lower level, every bit of playable space is utilised to provide a range of sensory activities from water features, planting spaces, waterplay and sand play. Blackboard, mirrors and outdoor kitchens encourage the children to explore and be creative within this sensory area. A raised sleeper wall cleverly helps to keep most sand within the sandpit, while also providing separation to the covered deck space, children are subtly encouraged through the design to enter the sandpit and garden area from one point only off the deck, leaving large areas of the deck free for different activities or quiet spaces to be created.
A stepped access is also provided to reach the top of the mound and viewing platform, so that the less able children are also able to easily get access to the top of the play area Hidden within the steps is outdoor storage space, additional to the two cedar sheds providing storage to each end of the play area.
The area above the mound provides a more natural character to the top of the site, with fruit trees, planted areas, mulched surfaces and rocks to reflect the local Maunga and lava flows of the area. This theme is also carried through in the boundary rock wall.
Situated within this upper area is a fale structure that recognises the diversity in the local community and provides a high vantage point for children to view out across the centre and look back into the centre. This structure also provides a platform for informal imaginative play.
The site’s shape and level change provided challenges but due to the multipurpose surfaces, a wide range of different play experiences and areas were created to suit the centre’s needs.
October 12, 2017
Early Learning Centre