The landscape architecture needed to adopt the school’s philosophy of providing a big picture education: with the outdoor area providing a range of ways to teach the students about the environment and the world. Many classes are held outside, aligning with the Montessori philosophy of allowing students freedom to work in the way they chose. Wherever possible, the aim was to provide learning experiences through the outdoor area.
The area is used by everyone from pre-schoolers through to grade sixes, so needed to work for a wide range of ages. Spaces were planned from a micro perspective – for example for children to recognise all parts of a flower, or categorise a leaf form – through to a macro level, where they can grow food in a kitchen garden to cook, or find birds or insect and other such things that correspond with the real world. The Scott Carver, students and their parent’s volunteered their time at a planting day workbee.
A native garden complete with fossils, a sensory garden, a productive garden and a shaded area for desks are all part of the extensive plan. There is also a play area where the children can scramble up uneven stairs and rock logs, a stream that would be dry most of the time, a bank they can roll down. A physical space for imaginative play is also included.
Extensive consultation with the principal, the teachers and the broader school community helped devise the brief, which was approached from a macro and a micro level. So while younger students might be taught how to recognise all parts of a flower and categorise a leaf form, older children might use the outside space to find and identify birds and insects. The school's philosophy was crucial throughout the design process.