Inclusive School Playground Spaces

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  • 2020

  • Architectural
    Urban

Designed By:

  • Foursight Architects

Commissioned By:

Victorian School Building Authority

Designed In:

Australia

Engaged by the VSBA, Foursight Architects delivered numerous dynamic outdoor play areas as part of the Inclusive Schools Fund Program. Designed to support the social needs of children regardless of disabilities or other differences, Foursight aesthetically integrated various play elements guided by universal design principles, ensuring the landscapes promote inclusivity.


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  • CHALLENGE
  • SOLUTION
  • IMPACT
  • MORE
  • The program focuses on inclusive learning to improve the social and emotional well-being of children so that all students are able to fully participate, learn and grow together despite any limitations or disabilities they may have. The programs brief focuses on taking a space within the school or kindergarten, internal or external depending on the needs of the respective school, and creating a new inclusive learning area or play zone so that students are able to use it to the greatest extent without special adaption. This approach aims to improve collaborative participation amongst all students including those with limited abilities.

  • Most schools had similar intentions for their new play spaces, largely to include students who suffer from varying disabilities, enabling them to participate in playing and learning collaboratively. A sole way inclusivity was achieved was through the design of access to and throughout the designated play area, ensuring the path of travel enabled students who are limited in abilities, to successfully and without difficulty, access all areas of the space including playground items. The play elements selected were due to their design to promote sensory learning, allowing all students to participate without singling out children based on their condition.

  • The results of these new play spaces have beneficial social impacts as they transform a previously limited area into a dynamic space that welcomes all children to play together, whether it’s through stimulating inclusive playground equipment, outdoor sensory gardens or flexible learning spaces. It allows children who were previously excluded or restricted to a limited playground, to have the opportunity to join other students in an area that caters to everyone’s abilities. The community also benefits highly as they have the option to send their children, who may have limited abilities, to a school which includes them rather than restrict.

  • In order to help children who may be impacted with low mobility or bound to a wheelchair, regular play elements need to be innovatively re-designed to allow these students to be involved. Sand pits are modified to an accessible sand table, allowing children in wheelchairs to play within the same area. We’ve applied the same principle to planter boxes which we’ve also designed as accessible planter boxes, enabling these students to have an equal share in these activities even if they do not have the same mobility as others. Sensory gardens and calming areas are also successful in meeting the behavioural needs of children, helping to improve their mood and encourage them to work together. Playground equipment that comprise of low-level elements are included where possible as they allow children with limited mobility to have an active share in the playground, as they aren’t excluded by units comprising purely of climbing elements and higher items. A combination of these essential elements is evident in these landscapes, offering a vast array of choices for all children in these inclusive play areas, as they don’t limit any one person to one item or area, but allows all to have a share together.