Woodland and wetland will foster learning and engagement with nature

Blackley Academy playing field, with viewing mound/outdoor teaching area

Stephen Martlew Landscape Architecture has transformed an underused school playing field at Blackley Academy, Manchester, into a more natural green space, based on the ideas and ethos of the ‘forest schools’ movement.

The idea is to foster imaginative learning and play while introducing children to the natural environment. An all-weather ball games area is complemented by:

  • a wetland habitat area
  • a secure ‘Early Years’ area with natural play
  • growing areas for all age groups, including a variety of local fruit trees
  • a woodland and hedgerow zone

Earth excavated in the construction of a new classroom building has been used to create a raised landform that serves as an outdoor classroom and performance space, and offers views over the new site.

The practice worked closely with pupils, teachers and governors, using workshops and consultations to feed into the final design.

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