The North Carolina Museum of Forestry in Whiteville, NC is a satellite facility for the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. In 2014, we assisted the museum team with re-visioning the existing facility entrance and landscape. Our goal is to create a vibrant compelling landscape that brings new life to the streets of Whiteville, a town that has seen low economic growth and is in a period of revitalization.
Play Chastain, in the Buckhead community of Atlanta, is a new vision for how children explore and grow through the use of parks. Jesse Turner, as Design Coordinator for The Natural Learning Initiative, worked with Harrison Design Associates, the Chastain Park Conservancy, and the Atlanta Task Force on Play to develop the design for this exciting new park. It features age group specific areas with developmentally appropriate features for all users, including care providers such as parents and grandparents. One of the most exciting features will be the tree house and super-long hill slides on Adventure Hill. This new park will be a wonderful addition to the already vibrant community that shares Chastain Park.
Hope Valley Preschool, in Durham NC, is a 5 star licensed child care facility serving children 6 weeks to 5 years old. We began our relationship when the owner contacted us to see if we could help with some erosion problems. This quickly developed into a more meaningful project as we shared our expertise in creating vibrant exciting outdoor learning environments. The design solves the erosion problems as an integrated part of a well designed space for young children. We worked around existing equipment to provide a pathway system that keeps kids moving and protects the plantings from being trampled. According to staff, children's play is much more calm and organized while remaining active and fun.
Casa Club is a small childcare facility with a massive heart! We designed their new outdoor learning environment using best practices that improve physical activity and provide more opportunities for social/emotional development.
Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University is home to the Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden. Jesse Turner is proud to have been the landscape architect and lead site designer for this exciting public garden.
The Secret Garden was made for fun and designed to be functional for all generations of the family. The small stream has a potable water source for playtime and a recirculating source for general leisure. When it gets really hot, the dial gets turned to reveal pop-up sprayers, bubbling fountains, and cascading tunnels of water. The garden fits some of the best children’s garden features into a mere 100′ x 40′ area. Best of all, the “kid’s stuff” is actually just as much fun for the adults. There’s a fort building area hidden in the rhododendrons, a story telling chair (and newspaper reading chair) with a sacred circle of turf, a special bench made just for chillin’, hideouts and secret entrances all around.
That’s the lower area. On the hill behind you can explore the forest through boardwalks and nature trails. There’s a tree deck for relaxing in the upper canopy and a rope bridge that takes you to a slide which is threaded between the trees. Native plants line the trails and accent the hillside, inviting you to explore and enjoy being outside. Just for fun.
The Winston Salem Montessori School’s Toddler Outdoor Learning Environment (OLE) provides challenges and learning opportunities for the school’s youngest class. The overall goals of the design were developed by the Natural Learning Initiative as part of a masterplanning and visioning process. The Toddler OLE design is based on best practices for early childhood outdoor environments, this is no ordinary “playground”. It is a fully equipped landscape for learning and play. The design of the space integrates lush plantings and features with cognitive and motor skill development goals. Children using this space have opportunities to ride trikes on the looping path, run up and down a mini-hill, play in the sand, climb around forts, slide down a slide, and explore plantings that attract interesting bugs and butterflies. We are pleased to have improved the everyday lives of the children using this wonderful space.
The Raleigh School’s Preschool Outdoor Learning Environment was transformed from a desert of play sand into a vibrant and diverse space for play and learning. We led the permitting, design, construction documentation, and construction administration for this project.
The Family Adventure Garden will be a place for children to explore water, wildlife, and local nature that exists in the San Antonio region. Jesse Turner, while Design Coordinator at The Natural Learning Initiative, consulted with SWA Group and Terra Design Studios on the preparation of the design program, engagement with stakeholders, and the schematic design. We prepared a gallery of precedent images, presented our research and relevant work, and worked with the team to develop a detailed list of programmatic elements for the new garden.
We worked with teachers, school administrators, and Earlyspace LLC to prepare design and construction drawings for the Sheep Harney Elementary School early childhood outdoor learning environment. The Nature Hut is a special component where kids will be provided with found natural objects to use in their play and learning activities.