Hooray, we have a teal schoolyard!
From a tiled square to a schoolyard where children can play, chill, hide and/ or work in the vegetable garden. The schoolyard of the Dr. H. Bavinckschool in Dordrecht (NL) was overhauled. Their renewed schoolyard is dordrecht’s first green-blue schoolyard!
Nature experience and biodiversity
The team and the children of the Dr. H. Bavinckschool wanted a more challenging and greener layout of the schoolyard for years. That ambition has been realized. The school now has a wonderful adventure outdoor playground with greenery, trees that give shade and a vegetable garden. Very different from the former schoolyard with some playground equipment. Where previously tiles dominated, you can now see planting, there is an insect hotel, rainwater collection and plenty of room for adventurous play for children of all ages. In addition to a pleasant play and exercise area, the renewed schoolyard offers plenty of space for development, discovery and attention to biodiversity and nature education. The school also wants to give more outdoor classes.
funding ran into borders. There was a budget for replacing playground equipment, that’s all. Marianne Greenall of Schoolyard Advice was hired. How do we get more money? In addition to guiding the design process, Greenall specializes in fundraising. She received grants from the Province, the Water Board and the Municipality of Dordrecht. She went looking for potential sponsors. That’s how a lot of the money came together. The children eventually raised the last part of the required money themselves with various actions from baking cookies to collecting deposits. As the icing on the cake, the school received a grant from My Healthy School to place a water tap in the schoolyard. This water tap encourages the children to drink more water and fill their bottle in the schoolyard.
The fact that the parties were willing to contribute financially stemmed from the enthusiasm about the plans to renew the schoolyard. BOERplay had visualized these plans in a design, a convincing animation that had been created on the basis of various sketches by a landscape architect and of frequent and intensive consultations with the client and children.
The schoolyard is divided into three different zones with plenty of free space in between for free play, cycling and ball games with sufficient visibility and overview. Zone 1 is equipped for formal play with various Robinia play equipment. To enhance the natural appearance, a tigermulch fall base has been chosen here. Zone 1 is adjacent to a large outdoor stage, which can be used for outdoor performances and outdoor classes, but also for large gatherings, such as the Sinterklaas and Christmas party and the annual talent show. In this zone, two trees have also been planted for extra shade. Zone 2 is aimed at free play in green. A zone with robust hedges, well resistant to the play intensity of 300 children and a subsoil of Dekowood. The zone is accessible via three entrances. An entrance runs through a path of tree trunks, a second entrance goes through the sandpit and a willow tunnel and a third entrance is a trail of square pickers and balancing elements. In this zone there are also boulders and walls of sidewalk tiles, which are grouped in such a way that they serve as an insect hotel and also as a wall to sit on. A wooden seating element around an existing tree is part of this zone. The sidewalk tiles of the walls come from the old schoolyard. Zone 3 is a vegetable garden provided by the children themselves.
Dream comes true
Joke Snijders, teacher of the Dr. Bavinckschool, had been dreaming for years of a schoolyard with more space for adventurous play, nature and more shade. “The schoolyard is actually my baby,” she says. “And it works! We now see, a few weeks after the opening, very diverse game and the game activities are much more spread throughout the schoolyard. Something’s happening everywhere. Various games are encouraged by the height differences on the square. What we have learned is that, for the maintenance of the square, we have to make agreements with the children: who does what? The dekowood needs to be raked every day, stuff has to be under the canopy. The children have thought about this and agreements have been made. Sometimes maintenance is also a nice outdoor lesson. Yesterday, for example, we and a group dried a puddle by shoveling leaves away from a drain. Children then see that water runs away to the lowest point. A beautiful lesson!”
The schoolyard of the Dr. H. Bavinckschool has become greener and much more attractive for ‘rawers, douwers, builders and schouwers’. There is now plenty of supply for these different modes, the square has been optimally used for play and education and you can play together.
This project was made possible with the support of the H3O Foundation, the Municipality of Dordrecht, the Dutch Delta Water Board, the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Jantje Beton, Dupont, the parent council and donations from parents. In collaboration with BOERplay, Kees de Bruin Hoveniers and Schoolplein advies, this project has been realized.
This article comes from the journal BuitenSpelen (#4, December 2020).
Location: Dr. H. Bavinckschool, Dordrecht
Client: Stichting H3O
Design Advice: BOERplay, Schoolyard advice
Version: BOERplay, Kees de Bruin Hoveniers
Period: October 2020