Faith Garden for Preparatory School, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, UK
‘Faith Garden’, where R.E., music and art is taught, for Newcastle Preparatory School
A new faith garden for an existing area within the playground is to be transformed into a ‘Faith Garden’ where pupils learn about all religions, as well as music and art. This essential play space and outdoor learning environment offers pupils more opportunities to play safe, feel welcomed, while also being attractive, exciting and educational. Material selection addresses the requirements of the children, they are high quality and the design is fit for purpose, attractive, imaginative and an investment for the school. The ‘Faith Garden’ meets 4 leading principles: imaginative design, innovative design, stimulating design and stimulate and enrich children’s play and learning. Pupils learn about other religions and beliefs, enjoy the natural surroundings, allow a child to ‘let off steam’ but also offers a place for quiet contemplation. It is a space for artistic and musical creation. The core of the design focuses on symbolism, iconography, understanding, love, belief, togetherness and faith. The new garden helps children with their physical development, as well as their social and cognitive development. The garden stimulates the five senses through material choice, the plant selection for scents and colours, as well as music and sound for auditory senses. It is a space for Mindfulness and wellbeing. Large wooden gates with words such as ‘Love’, ‘Belief’, ‘Togetherness’ inscribed, open on to a cork-floored space with water rills. By being mindful of this space, the rills slow down the children as they enter the garden. The garden is then divided into 2 halves, based loosely on yin-yang philosophy. One side is for learning with a large circular canopy for outdoor teaching, with space for music lessons. The flower borders are angular on this side of the garden, while opposite the pathway leads you through the space passing curved borders and the central wooden feature – an ‘S-shaped’ structure, with chalk boards on one side, and a large circular water feature with seating. As you reach the end of the garden you enter a different space. A space more for quiet contemplation with two hidden benches and a mosaic of the world.