Studio G is committed to designing places which engage children and youth with the natural environment, whether inside, on the roof, or in the school yard. USA Today features in its Earth Day issue a story about the U.S. trend toward natural play yards for children. The article features a recently completed Studio G project for SPARK Child Care Center, a program of Boston Medical Center, which serves children at risk due to medical conditions, family trauma, abuse, and poverty. The project goal was to create a therapeutic and safe outdoor learning environment that encourages children to explore the natural world.
The design includes elements typical of natural play yards, and takes advantage of SPARK’s pastoral setting on a former TB sanitarium campus. A wooded area has outdoor story space with seating on boulders and tree stumps, and a fort built of salvaged trees nestled against a rock outcropping. The yard includes hills for rolling, tumbling and crawling; areas for art, music, digging and water play; trike loops with varied surfaces.
Some specific features of SPARK’s play yard cater to the special needs of children who are sight, hearing and mobility impaired: sensory paths exploring the rich senses of smell, taste, touch, and sound; exacting attention to accessibility even on hilly wooded areas; raised beds for gardening from a child-sized wheelchair. The aim was to create a place that enhances children’s development, and encourages their play and creativity.
Please click below to access a USA Today article on Natural Play Yards: