Working in collaboration with the architects, erz drew on the philosophy of natural play and also Scandinavian Free Play to develop a nursery school that operates as an indoor/outdoor experience for the children, with fluid movement between a series of spaces, each offering different types of activity. Outside, we designed a series of gardens or playscapes, with distinct scales and characters, that become increasingly ‘wild’ as you retreat from the building. Our intent was to create a children’s garden in which to play and not a ‘playground’. Like the new nursery building the garden is intended to be not only functional and educational but also beautiful and inspiring. We also sought to partner a contemporary design aesthetic with natural materials and a strong ecological remit.

erz were responsible for the design and development of all external works associated with the project. Malcolm Fraser Architects acted as contract administrator and erz worked closely with them to ensure the process for the design and delivery of the garden was well coordinated.

Specifically; a complex and formal series of gardens was delivered under the canopy of over thirty mature trees without endangering tree health. The planting was enhanced with a palette of native hedging and shrubs, and a new meadow seed mix designed for light woodland cover. Play structures were sourced from timber from the University’s own estate. This is a play garden and offers a rich variety of spaces and places, with integrated play elements occurring as part of the overall design.

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