The narrative of the Georgetown Day School (GDS) playground design is inspired by the school mascot, the grasshopper, with a strong focus on the concept of biophilia – the love of nature.
The playground for lower and middle school students will be built at the new campus location, adjacent to the upper school to complete a new unified campus project. Working alongside Lemon Brooke and the school, we designed a playscape that takes advantage of a large grade change and creates spaces for both the younger and older students.
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, offering magnificent views to the critters and creatures that call the forest home.
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. A grasshopper nestled among blades of grass observes the excitement around it. The playground at GDS, to be completed in 2020, fosters an environment of wonderment, imagination, and creativity as well as a deep-rooted connection to nature.
The complexity of the play pieces in this design reinforce the capacities that the school strives to teach every student. The unpredictability and challenge presented in the playground engage cognitive function that provide opportunities for creative thinking and risk assessment.
These elements are built into every play piece at GDS to give students the freedom to choose how they play and 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 was featured at the Earthscape EXPO booth at ASLA 2019 in San Diego.