Sensory garden for Garratt Park School, Wandsworth, London, UK
A sensory garden and sports outdoor space for young people with Moderate Learning Difficulties, Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Speech, Language and Communication difficulties
I am delighted to be designing a whole new outdoor space for Garratt Park School, a maintained school for children and young people aged 11-19 with Moderate Learning Difficulties, Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Speech, Language and Communication difficulties. This garden is a Greenfingers initiative, and having met some of the pupils and spoken with staff it is apparent that the existing outdoor space, which is predominantly tarmac, lacks greenery and is not fit for purpose. The pupils gave an in-depth brief: a living wall, a sensory area, more colours on the walls, long benches for basketball, separate sports and relax areas, gardening groups, natural materials, a bouldering / climbing wall to help students build muscles and help with their hand, eye co-ordination, bean bags and an outdoor teaching area.
When it comes to designing for play, for interest, for the senses, for inspiration, for fun, for learning it is essential to create successful play spaces. Design for Play by Play England, Schools for the Future by the Department for Education and Skills, Fair Play: a consultation on the play strategy (DCSF, 2008a) and Every Child Matters by the UK Government, as well as Design Team Procedures by the Department for Education and Skills, Ireland, give great insights into best practice. Play spaces, and in this case a Sensory Garden, need to offer children more opportunities to play safe, feel welcomed, while also being attractive, exciting and educational. Material selection needs to address the requirements of the children, be high quality and the design be fit for purpose, attractive, imaginative and be a real investment. At Concept Stage