Type: design guidelines, learning environment, schoolyard, kindergarten yard, learning, wellness, health, children
Status: published 6/2019
Client: Building information
We defined a set of new design principles for school and kindergarten yards. The design guide is primarily intended for designers, but it also helps the client and users to define the needs and functions of the outdoor area. The design guide for outdoor learning environments is part of a broader series for designing the facilities of basic education.
There are a large number of new school buildings under construction and renovation in Finland. The new curriculum suggests remarkable changes in the way the outdoor spaces of schools are designed.
By developing outdoor areas it is possible to support, for example, environmental education, project learning and phenomenon-based learning. School is a context which applies to nearly all young people regardless of their background, and therefore it is also a fruitful setting to intervene in health- related behaviours.
During the project, we extensively studied literature, research and expertise on outdoor learning environments. In constructed outdoor learning environments there is untapped potential in, for example, day-to-day contact with nature and voluntary physical movement. The design guide opens up these possibilities through three functional and pedagogical elements; the positive effect of nature on health and wellbeing, outdoor space supporting voluntary physical movement and the schoolyard as a pedagogical space.
Each topic and the application of the objectives in practice are presented in a concise and illustrative manner. In addition, other principles for outdoor design, including material, vegetation, stormwater management, and furnishing, are provided. The information about sustainable environmental construction is also provided.