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Garden City Play Environment is a public place designed for children in Richmond, British Columbia. The play environment provides a diversity of experiences that foster children’s physical, emotional, social and cognitive development.

The park is an organic, flowing space where the structures and systems create a setting that celebrates the natural world and the regional character of the Pacific Northwest.  By creating opportunities for children to interact with water, stone, sand, salvaged tree limbs and ribbons of perennial vegetation, children are encouraged to reconnect with the natural world, and to become long-term stewards of the environment. [1]

“In what’s believed to be the first park of its kind in North America, it brings to the surface an underground storm water system, and then spirals the water through unusual channels and man-made structures – including a maneuverable sluice, hand pump and water wheel – all of which encourage what [Space2Place] calls child driven ‘interventions”. [2]

City of Richmond Report of Committee:

“This committee has met on a regular basis since October 2006, and its work program has included extensive consultation with children, staff, parents from Anderson School, Cook, and General Currie School in workshops held in the classroom, and displays settings within the schools, and with residents of the City Centre at a Public Open House held at Richmond City Hall on January 25, 2007.”

“The vision for the play area is for it to provide children (and adults) with a rich diversity of creative play opportunities and learning experiences…”

Choices have been made so that the play environment will:
Encourage children to connect with nature and the outdoor world
Provide places to learn

“…collaborative effort amongst City Centre community and school representatives, City staff, and the consultants. The plan is largely a result of direct input received from the school children of three City Centre based schools, and City Centre residents, and will provide for an exciting mixture of natural and traditional play features.”
3.0 Research
“We need to accept that it is natural and healthy for children of all ages to explore, to take risks, to seek out adventure and test boundaries. Perhaps most important of all, we need to revisit and revise our ideas of what a good childhood looks and feels like.”

All children need outdoor play environments that are imaginative, inspiring, and designed to cultivate their development through play. The unique qualities offered from the outdoor environment facilitate play and support a child’s learning.

3.6 Supporting Research
Natural Learning Initiative A research and design assistance program with an emphasis on the importance of natural play environments. The website is a good resource for research papers as well activities for children.

4.0 Henry Anderson School Workshop
It is critical to understand who will be the potential prime users of the play environment and what they would like to see in the playground. Three different groups in the school, a kindergarten class, grade 4+5 class and grade 7 class participated in the workshops. The three workshops held offered an opportunity to capture information from a range of age groups. [3]

Award of Excellence: Landscape Paysage (CSLA): National Merit 2009
The park is an organic, flowing space where the structures and systems combine to create a setting that invokes the natural world and reflects the regional character of the Pacific Northwest. Interaction with elements and processes such as water, stone, sand, salvaged tree limbs and ribbons of perennial vegetation provides children with an essential connection to larger natural systems and nurtures in them a responsibility to protect these systems. [4]


[1]    Garden City Play Environment. (n.d.). Retrieved December, 2020, from http://www.space2place.ca/garden-city-play-environment

[2]      Garden City Park Playground. (2017, July). Retrieved December, 2020, from https://playgroundology.wordpress.com/category/garden-city-park-playground/

[3]      Semple, D. (2007). Garden City Community Park – Play Environment Concept Plan (Rep. No. 06-2345-20-MNOR1/Vol1). Richmond, BC: City of Richmond.

[4]    Garden City Play Environment. (n.d.). Retrieved December, 2020, from https://www.csla-aapc.ca/awards-atlas/garden-city-play-environment

Project Title: Garden City Park playground
Year: 2008

Place: Richmond, BC

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