06 Mar 2023
As part of our exciting Public Realm works at Redcar Town Centre, Southern Green have recently hosted a design workshop with Kirkleatham Hall School with Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council along with our friends at Identity Consult.
Kirkleatham Hall School is situated in a fantastic wooded grounds and students at Kirkleatham Hall, who have a wide range of special educational needs (SEN), have dedicated provision for Open Play and Learning and Forest School to promote engagement with their external environment and support of emotional, social and physical development through engagement with nature.
Southern Green have a wealth of experience designing inclusive spaces for neuro-diverse people and working with SEN schools in design competitions and workshops, most recently with Thornhill Park School in Sunderland in the RHS Green Plan It Challenge. We were therefore delighted to have the opportunity to work with Kirkleatham School and develop a design challenge for the students. We set the students the task of designing a sensory garden for their grounds. We introduced the students to different plants that evoke the five senses: touch, smell, taste, hearing and sight. We also looked at how plants grow in different environmental conditions for example shady, sunny, dry and wet conditions.
The brief was to challenge the students and think about their surrounding environment, and how might their sensory garden adapt to their selected spaces. The students considered the needs of users of their garden and how these needs could be met through design. Students were invited to explore different mediums for how their sensory garden design is represented: it could be a plan, a drawing, a photograph, a model or a written description. This gave the groups maximum flexibility for using individual strengths to express their ideas. An additional maths challenge required students to add a scale to their sensory garden at 1:100 to understand how scale functions and what the scale of their garden would be like if designed in real life.
The students approached the task with much gusto and had some fantastic initial ideas in their groups including quiet spaces for reading and reflection, active and musical spaces for exploring different senses, woodland gardens that would respond to nature and ways of using different plants to provoke each of the five senses. After the introductory session, there was some great feedback saying how this task was able to challenge each student and everyone was able to contribute to this project using their own special abilities or areas of interest. One student even said the design challenge was “best thing ever!”. By the end of the workshop the students were starting to get to grips with how they could develop and present their designs with one group considering taking photographs of their space and developing them digitally in Photoshop and another group developing their design in Minecraft!
Southern Green will be back for a second session to review the designs and are sponsoring prizes for the best sensory garden designs. We can’t wait to see how each group has developed their sensory garden designs, keep an eye out for further updates!