Kidsafe Patron and Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia Quentin Bryce AC presented Steve Warner with the award during the National Kidsafe Day celebrations on October 23.
The design transformed a narrow concrete corridor into a natural woodland with a winding pathway, bridges, wooden mushroom seating and a moveable tree trunk forest of plants. It inspires imagination and pretend play, and its inclusive design allows for wheelchair access. All on a very limited budget, with funds raised through parent efforts and a council grant.
“The kindergarten wanted something different, definitely not plastic,” says Steve. “But because they don’t own the land we couldn’t dig plants in, they needed to be able to relocate all the elements if they needed to. They also wanted to extend the classroom outside, add sensory and tactile elements, and encourage a sense of discovery.”
Steve’s innovative design included using hollowed out tree stumps to pot plants, and adding bridges to create different levels in a small space. A curved circus mirror, hanging timbers and a discover box all add to the sense of adventure.
The kindergarten hopes to raise more funds to create Stage 2 of the design, which includes willow archways and a raised platform area for storytelling and afternoon naps.
OUTHOUSE won in the Innovative Design Elements category, with the judges commenting on the imaginative elements and the sense of wonder, as well as the use of recycled materials.
OUTHOUSE design also received a Highly Commended Award for its masterplan design for Burton Primary School and Pre-school in South Australia, which included outdoor rooms for open and group play, a vegetable garden and a natural amphitheatre.
“The Kidsafe awards are highly competitive – there were 55 entries from all over Australia. So it’s great to know that we can create something fun and interesting for kids, without compromising on safety,” says Steve.
He adds that there’s a real delight in designing spaces for children. “I think there’s a kid in all of us, and this is what keeps me young! There’s nothing better than seeing the delight on their faces when they discover something new in a space like this.”
For more on OUTHOUSE, go to http://www.outhousedesign.com.au