Access to a high-quality play area in a healthy environment is critical to children's development. Zwolle school organization Vivente has already made the inside of its school buildings more sustainable, but it wanted to provide a green playground outside too. As a process facilitator, Arcadis helped to develop a suitable solution.
The Province of Overijssel provides subsidies to help schools create green playgrounds, but funding alone is not enough to build a climate-resilient play area. For example, it is also a good idea to involve residents in the changes at an early stage, as this will ensure higher levels of support and cooperation during implementation. With all this in mind, Arcadis acted as an independent process facilitator for Vivente, the umbrella organization of twenty Protestant Christian elementary schools in Zwolle. In a so-called 'Living Lab', the partners at Climate Campus Zwolle explored the options for creating green school playgrounds. This process resulted in a package of requirements, conditions and recommendations for green playgrounds.
Elementary school, De Zevensprong, was the first school to take the leap and put the plan into practice. Together with local neighborhood representatives, the student council, parents and social partners, the school drew up a comprehensive plan. In the first phase of the project, we worked closely with the client De Zevensprong, Partout Preschool and the municipality of Zwolle. We translated the wishes of residents and stakeholders into a design sketch and, on completion of the project preparation and implementation design phases, managed the implementation of the project. The client selected a design with a round courtyard, an amphitheater and a water trail surrounded by a herb garden, lawn and lots of trees and shrubs.
The students at De Zevensprong are already enjoying their new, green and climate-resilient playground. There is no fence around the playground, so it can also function as a green meeting place for the local residents. Anyone can enter the playground, even after school hours, but it is primarily intended as a green oasis where children can play, chat and explore. After playing in a green playground, students are more focused on their lessons and there is less bullying in the classroom. And what's more, a natural playing field is climate-resilient: green areas absorb more rainwater than traditional paved playgrounds.