Importance of Landscape in School Design
Landscape plays a major role in the learning experience of a child. A school campus not only comprises of the buildings in a school, rather it also involves the design and presence of landscape as well. Retention of trees, shrubs on the site, and proper selection and placement of new plants, which provide a visual screen, give shade, reduce noise, separate different kinds of activities and also serve as play elements. These spaces provide convenient movement patterns, as well as places to study and relax.
Solid elements like paved areas, driveways, pathways, retaining walls, stairs, fences, outdoor furniture etc. can be planned within the school layout. Natural feature on site like wooded areas, stones can be retained and used for seating. Sidewalks can be provided in schools, to avoid students from accessing the vehicular roads. Since children tend to walk in groups, the sidewalks on a school site can be about 1500 to 2400 mm wide.
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Landscape as a Learning Aid
The landscape also acts as a learning aid in the school and thus it plays a major role in the design.
Shading elements - Giving natural shade.
Learning elements - Gaining knowledge about the trees, species and their nature.
The seeds of the plants can be used for playing games.
Fruit or flower bearing trees can be of use.
Seasonal trees can be planted within the school campus. This will encourage children to learn about the trees and automatically recognize the seasons.
A place to grow flowering plants can be introduced in the beds near drinking water points, or taps. They may thrive on runoff waste water. Instead of creating puddles, such channels can be provided to water the plants.
Botanical gardens generally comprise of gardens which display a wide variety of plants of different nature.
Flowering plants, fruit bearing plants, seasonal plants etc can be grown and studied. These can be appropriately labeled with local and botanical names for children to learn.
Implementing farming activities in schools will involve training students in agricultural practices, teaching them to grow, cultivate plants or crops, maintain them and harvest them.
Workshops related to small farm management, basic courses in fruits and vegetable cultivation may be organized. Students develop basic skills to bring a garden to life with fresh, seasonal vegetables and crops, and enjoy crafting, cooking, nature exploration, along with other hands-on activities.
Medicinal plants can also be planted in the farm activity spaces. Benefits of a medicinal plant farm are:
Teachers and students study and acquire basic knowledge of the medicinal plants available locally.
It will help students recognize some species of herbal plants and their medicinal properties and uses.
Plants like Tulsi, Senna, Nelavemu, Ashwagandha, Neem, Turmeric, Vayambu,Aloe Vera etc. can be planted.
Information boards can be prepared by students on details of plant names, its medicinal use, plant cycles, growth seasons etc.
Plant and animal behavioural patterns can also be observed and studied by implementing aquariums in the school layout.
One of the methods of executing an aquarium may be by rain water harvesting tanks. These tanks, that are filled naturally by rain water, can be placed in the outdoors under observable environments where aquariums can be installed.
Another variety of animal species that can be studied within secure school environments can be butterflies.
Butterflies have short life cycles and also react quickly to environmental changes, making it easy for children to study and understand them. They are also colorful organisms that encourage children to be playful by running around to catch hold of them. Children will be able to observe and explain animal behaviour and interactions between plants and animals
An important part of a child's learning experience is the landscape. A school campus should not be just the buildings, it should also includes the layout and presence of the surrounding environment. Landscapes that are appealing and convenient invite and promote overall wellbeing, both physically and mentally.
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