The narrative of the Georgetown Day School (GDS) playground design takes its cue from the school mascot, the grasshopper. The narrative additionally has a strong focus on the concept of biophilia: the love of nature.
The playground for lower and middle school students is part of the construction at the new campus location. Adjacent to the upper school, the effort is part of the GDS School Unification Project. Working alongside Lemon Brooke and the school, we designed a playscape spread over four complex and distinct areas.
From the perspective of a tiny grasshopper, the forest floor is a richly complex microworld that invites exploration and discovery. In the mid-Atlantic coastal forest, the mighty trunks of the oaks, pines, and catalpas stretch high into the air. As a result, these giants offer magnificent views to the critters and creatures that call the forest home. Similarly, A rock outcrop overlooks a bramble of logs and twigs on a grassy hillside. Deeper into the woodland, intersecting tree branches reach into the sky. Meanwhile, a grasshopper nestled among blades of grass observes the excitement around it.
The playground at GDS fosters an environment of wonderment, imagination, and creativity as well as a deep-rooted connection to nature. Most importantly, the complexity of the play pieces in this design reinforce the capacities that the school strives to teach every student. Consequently, the unpredictability and challenge presented in the playground engage cognitive function that provide opportunities for creative thinking and risk assessment. Accordingly, every play piece at GDS includes these challenges to give students the freedom to make choices during play. So, they are able to push their boundaries, take risks, learn from failure, and build their confidence – all valuable lessons that they will carry into adulthood.
The rock outcrop playground sculpture for GDS was featured at the Earthscape EXPO booth at ASLA 2019 in San Diego.