- Wanaka, New Zealand
The learning spaces at Te Kura O Take Karara, a new school in the picturesque town of Wanaka on New Zealand’s South Island, are striking examples of what the New Zealand Ministry of Education describes as ‘Innovative Learning Environments’.
Highly attuned to the latest research into the benefits of creating learning experiences beyond the classroom walls, the Ministry of Education sought to establish a play space which offered a diverse range of play options to support students’ physical, emotional and social development.
Drawing inspiration from the school’s values of “caring, courageous and connected”, and focus on environmental stewardship, Playground Centre worked with Kamo Marsh Landscape Architects to creat a bespoke play space for the students of Te Kura O Take Karara that met the Ministry of Education’s requirements, budget and timeframe.
Sustainably-grown New Zealand hardwood is the hero of nearly every piece of play equipment in the Te Kura O Take Karara school grounds, achieving a cohesive eco-aesthetic across the play space which complements the school’s ethos, architecture and the surrounding landscape. Each piece was custom-built and crafted locally, based on products in the Playground Centre range, including the TR314 Modular Play System.
Testimony to good design, the TR314 incorporates a multitude of activities with targeted play benefits ranging from balance and coordination to strength and agility; and provides a large number of students of different ages and abilities the opportunity to play with, and alongside, each other. At the school’s request, we used timber instead of UV Stabilised Plastic on a number of elements and also replaced chain and hose fittings with rope.
Another standout feature of the playground is the turfed mound which allows children to play up, over, through and around the play space – on the in-built tower with roped access ramp and slide, and in the Tunnel Through Playground Mound. The tunnel, slide and scaling rope on the ramp add inclusive play value through increased accessibility, the tunnel’s provision of a quiet space and the scaling rope’s support for the development of proprioception (perception and awareness of the position and movement of the body).
The addition of Stepping Logs, Straddle Jump, Balance Beam and Zig Zag Walk (all in timber) ensure children have an array of play options to choose from, each providing a unique challenge, ways to build skills and explore and navigate their play space.
Tactile, sensory and imaginative play is further enhanced through the inclusion of a customised Sand and Water Play Module.