Mayur Naik a registered architect(RA) from Belagavi recently designed a Sensory Garden for Montessori Education at Gurugram, Haryana.
Mayur is a trained Architect and Urban Designer who sees immense opportunities in Placemaking. He has master planned several projects of different scales in the past, by being involved in all the stages of project life, viz., PreDesign to Site Works. His expertise lies in Placemaking, Urban Design, Streetscapes, Business Strategics, CPTED & Safe Environments.
Mayur shares more information on the project.
As Architects one understands that child development period is the critical period of anyone’s lifetime, and it requires a prosocial built environment for nurturing a child’s cognitive development perspective. With such focus, they took up this unique design challenge at Gurugram (Haryana) from our esteemed Client SRI MA Group of Institutions, who have proved their mettle in the field of school education via various campus’ all across India.
The design brief we received from them was to design a garden conducive for Montessori style of learning, located in front of their existing four-storey school building in Gurugram. The age group of children who would use this garden space was specified to be around 5 years, boys and girls alike. The play time we were told would be during all days of the week. Hence, they pulled out our graph papers, tracing sheets, landscape design data files, child psychology literature, along with the set of colour pencils, pointed tip pens and paraphernalia. The objective now was to create an innovative play school outside the existing school building.
When landscape design met child psychology and child development:
The traditional first step of Site Analysis was taken up as part of Predesign, and the narrative theme was set, keeping in mind the availability of the local labour force, local plant materials, and local construction materials for achieving an affordable landscape. We, now moved very consciously from Predesign towards Schematic Design and further towards Design Development as we finally arrived at the Good for Construction (GFC) Drawings stage. During each of the design stages, we remained focused on child psychology/ development and ease of construction.
Low maintenance was also going to be a salient feature of our ‘Garden of Life’ so we chose sod that is easy for lawn care. Further, as we looked deeper into the design challenge, we realized that we had to not only provide the children with an autobiographical memory, but also provide constructivism through our design solution. For which we placed the active learning zone in south-east diametrically opposite to the recreation zone in north-west, and Bonsai zone atop the lawn mound tunnel in the south-west end, from where everyday children would enter the school premises. We understood that during playtime, the children also had to develop a sense of self-efficacy within the process of recreation, so the play equipments were carefully chosen from the vibrant catalogue of Fun Play Systems Pvt Ltd (our play equipment associate). Equipments like Playground Climber and Multi Play Station will allow the growth of motor skills in them.
As we all know that majority of the children learn out of either peer pressure or imitation, so there was ample opportunity of learning created in this garden, by providing 3 big zones (as described above) that could accommodate a group of 12 children in each zone on all weekdays. These permanent installations would not get in the way of their running around or become hurdles during playtime because adequate circulation space was provided around these play equipments. Such projects always bring forth the nature-nurture issue, and architects seldom get this wonderful opportunity to resolve it, through creativity.
Now, let us briefly look at the salient features of each of the three above mentioned zones. The first active learning zone in south-east has a serpentine sensory path which is 4-feet in breadth and 28-feet in length, and having a battery of 2-feet wide and 4-inch shallow trays made out of brick lining and PCC base. These trays hold various materials that children can touch and feel. The touch sensations like soft to rough, dry to moist, warm to cold, matte to glossy, etc., can be explored through these trays.
This Montessori way of learning was achieved within the outdoors. We have also provided a dwarf water cascade on the rocks at that south-east end, which also serves the sense of hearing. In the adjacent recreation zone towards the north-west, we not only find the various play equipments but also find flower bed edging that attract the butterflies.
The softscape palette included Marigold and Calendula shrubs for achieving this Rhopalocera goal. The final zone of Bonsai at the south-west end gives the children an opportunity to roll down from the top of lawn mound and explore the rotomolded kid’s tunnel. This creates a sense of liberation within them for short period.
It’s a human innate desire to feel liberated. Keeping all these intricate activities within our site boundaries, we decided to flank them on all sides by either 8-feet high Green Walls or 4-feet FRP decorative wooden fence. A FRP entrance gate-frame “Torana” has also been provided as a garden entrance marker in the east side. This provides a sense of security to the children at play or learning. The design work was completed in 3 months and site work was completed in 4 months on-record in 2020-21.
Project: Garden of Life – A Sensory Garden for Montessori Education
Location: Gurgaon, Haryana, INDIA
Client: SRI MA Group of Institutions
Architect: Mayur Naik & Associates
Play Equipments: Fun Play Systems Pvt Ltd
Site Works: Sri Ma Construction Mgmt Team
Project Area: 0.30 Acre
Contractors: Local Teams
Cost: INR 10 Lacs
Mayur can be reach on [email protected] or (+91) 88052 40811