Design: Sand & Care

Despite complex planting plan that included over 20 varieties of trees and shrubs planted, this is not a natural playground. Nature pedagogy is not our centre’s pedagogy.

Instead, the design came from the position that nature and culture are not separate. It also came from thinking about the ways we, in this city in particularly, are deeply emmeshed with the industries directly responsible for much of the climate devastation – oil and plastics; about the ongoing colonial violence, the fence lines that delineate private properties; the way we compose our settler identities on lands. So we never considered creating some nature paradise that would somehow shield us from our own responsibilities and implications in violence, both colonial and environmental.

In a very practical sense, that meant that we didn’t shy away from non-natural materials. We had no fear of plastics, metal, or any hard surfaces.

Among those was a large concrete deck we created. The deck curves, hugging both the existing sand area and a garden that was built around a stormwater drain.

Along with existing trees we wished to carefully protect, including effort to shield the exposed routes of the maple, we did retain the gazebo structure and added shade sails over the expanded concrete patio in the South-East corner. 

Pedagogy of Maintenance as care

Tatiana (zine to educators):

It’s here, the new playground. We can discuss the choice of adjectives for a long time (new, old, redesigned), but the fact remains: this space has been closed to the children and educators for a long while, and now we are invited back in.
This playground (and we can discuss the choice of nouns for a long time – studio, garden, outdoor classroom) has been designed not only to reflect the curriculum and relationship stories cultivated through the last years at Oak Ave, but also with the practice of the pedagogy of care in mind.
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