Educational Establishments

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Playgrounds and Learning Environments

The majority of our design and construction work in educational establishments involves the development of playgrounds and learning environments.

Lancashire Landscapes

Indeed, the company’s work in this area is the most rapidly expanding part of the business and we have recently teamed up with Kompan – the world’s leading specialist in playground solutions – so as to complement their years of experience with our own unique approach.

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Over the last few years we have both designed and constructed a number of truly bespoke play areas for children aged 3-11 in schools, nurseries and children’s centres. We choose to marry the term ‘learning environment’ with that of ‘playground’ because our concept of an outdoor space for children goes well beyond the simple assembly of prefabricated play structures which are installed by our competitors. There are three reasons why our creations are completely unique:

Bespoke and hand crafted
Our outdoor spaces are uniquely crafted to meet clients’ exact requirements, not simply a collection of prefabricated catalogue play equipment. Many of the features and specially designed and completely unique and have so far included:

  • A four-metre long pirate ship complete with cabin
  • A covered amphitheatre for outdoor teaching
  • Dens in the form of giant ladybirds and acorns
  • Water fountains in which children can safely touch and hear running water
  • Living willows tunnels and dens
  • Percussion instruments which children can use to create sound
  • Slate surfaces on which children can write and draw with chalk
  • Vegetable plots, orchards and planting beds filled with ‘sensory plants’

Designed for use by all children and adults
Our outdoor spaces can be designed for combined use by all children, including those with special needs such as wheelchair users and children with learning difficulties. This does not simply mean that the outdoor space is accessible to all children but that the features are specifically designed to accommodate all potential users. For example textured surfaces are chosen so as to stimulate slight vibration for wheelchair users and modest colours are chosen so as not to over-stimulate sensitive children. A common feature in our landscapes is duplication of features at two levels to ensure that they can be accessed by both standing children and those in wheelchairs. Also featuring in many landscapes are sheltered seating areas specifically designed for use by adults who wish to observe children at play or are waiting to collect children

The key to building an outdoor space which is utilisable by all children lies in an extremely rigorous design process and continuous client liaison throughout the construction process. We constantly check that all features will fulfil their function and, in safe conditions, bring children out to the site to check that features are appropriately sized and shaped.

Multi-functional outdoor environments, not just playgrounds
Our concept of a children’s outdoor space exceeds the simple idea a play area and we create multi-functional outdoor environments with a range of features designed to encourage learning. Our landscapes can include any of the following elements, with the exact extent of each element depending on client requirements and site restraints:

  • General play spaces with a variety of structures and facilities designed to encourage traditional creative play.
  • Nature zones incorporating features such as native plants, log piles, compost heaps and long grass which can be used as both teaching aids and areas for exploratory play.
  • Formal teaching areas incorporating seating which can be used to bring lessons outside.

Safety is obviously of paramount importance in children’s play areas and we approach this in two separate ways. Firstly, if any prefabricated features or safety surfacing products are used these are vetted to ensure that they comply with all regulations and obligatory criteria laid down by the government and meet the current European Playground Safety Standards EN 1176 and 1177 which are encompassed within the standards laid down by the British Standards Institute. Indeed, by supplying equipment manufactured by our trade Ally Kompan we can be sure that it has undergone the most rigorous of safety testing. Secondly, for bespoke crafted features where formal regulation is not possible we adhere to our own rigorous set of safety procedures which include the following:

  • Rounding-off of any sharp timber edges
  • Interlinking of timber joins to avoid potential finger traps
  • Use of galvanised fixings which will not rust
  • Countersinking of bolts to avoid potential finger traps
  • Sanding down of any timber edges likely to splinter
  • Solid fixing to ensure objects cannot be moved
  • Smoothing-off of any sharp metal edges and application of protective rubber padding if necessary
  • Design to ensure that gaps in fencing are too small to trap heads, hands or feet

The benefit of using Lancashire Landscapes is that we can undertake the whole process from client liaison and initial design through to construction, ensuring that the finished product exactly meets the client’s requirements. We can then maintain an interest by performing regular maintenance to ensure that the outdoor space continues to perform for years to come.