natural playgrounds

Natural playground design is on the forefront of early childhood education and has moved across the U.S. after establishing a solid footing in Europe and Asia. Whether providing a needed green environment for discovery and play in an urban setting or enchancing a rural educational facility, natural playground design can be as simple or complex as your budget and cirriculum.

  Salt Lake Community College Eccles Childhood Early Childhood Development Center; playground design by Melinda McMillan (Element Studio) and Scott Smith for Method Studio, Inc. (2015)

Salt Lake Community College Eccles Childhood Early Childhood Development Center; playground design by Melinda McMillan (Element Studio) and Scott Smith for Method Studio, Inc. (2015)

  University requirements and local code can be complied with while offering natural playspaces that provide learning opportunities for all ages.

University requirements and local code can be complied with while offering natural playspaces that provide learning opportunities for all ages.

Natural Playgrounds for Municipalities or Institutions

Your group may need help navigating ADA requirements in addition to playground regulation and childcare licensing.  These considerations may be in addition to your own institution's maintenance requirements and landscape guidelines which may not seem compatible with the vision you have of what a natural playground should be. I can provide design services that account for all regulations, integrate seamlessly with your institution's facility management, and provide a space that offers children and adults a new adventure with every season.

  Water features, climbing tunnels, and interesting plants combine to provide a magical place to explore.

Water features, climbing tunnels, and interesting plants combine to provide a magical place to explore.

  Concept sketch for a phased natural playground at a low-income elementary school. Element Studio, 2018

Concept sketch for a phased natural playground at a low-income elementary school. Element Studio, 2018

The Limitations of Non-Profit Budgets and Resources for Natural Playground Design

Non-profits are often caught between the services they want to offer and the stark reality of budget constraints. Element Studio can offer consultation services based on your budget and your plan. Do you need a concept drawing for fundraising? Coaching to get a community group started? A proposal that includes vetted plant material, dollar amounts for the natural features you'd like, and a phased plan? 

Element Studio can provide consultations at every stage, direction for your next step in grant proposals, or full landscape design services. 

The cost of design services may be reduced for licensed non-profit groups; please contact me and describe your situation.