St Pauls Nursery and Children’s Centre, Bristol

You need to know how much all the hard work has been appreciated here!

Jenny Bodnarchuk Family Support & Outreach Worker

A large sand pit was built amongst some shrubs and surrounded by a chunky log edging and tall poles with cables for hanging ropes and sheets.

Plenty of storage was requested so we installed a large cupboard and the main work space has tables and seating for group work and eating morning snacks and lunches.

At the heart of the garden is an outdoor kitchen with a raised open fireplace designed especially for the space, it has a retractable cooking plate and a chimney to remove wood smoke. The joy of cooking on an open fire and sharing food is such a simple pleasure and the kitchen has a working sink and worktop space at child height and adult height for all ages to work together.

In the central space are subterranean dens perfect for role play and open out onto a wide stone dust space in the sunshine of the central area.

The structure is built from round poles to give a rustic woodland feel and the roof has a green roof with a mix of sedums, grasses and shrubs to increase biodiviersty in the garden. We have already planted a herb garden and the Centre have further plans for allotment gardening and other ideas which we look forward to developing with them.

The Centre needed a space for the youngest children to spend time in the fresh air safely separated from the more active children so we created a Baby Area with storage, a sheltered deck and open garden space in a fenced and gated corner of the garden with cables to drape fabrics over for shade on hot days.

A closed system water play element inspired by Gaudi’s architecture provides a unique and organic feature with many play and learning benefits as well as being a calming influence. Children can access the water play system from both sides and the meandering design allows for children to control the water flow through hollowed logs and into the concrete table.

water play - water rills - playing with water

Amongst the larger trees on site is a new double Tree House surrounded by some existing play equipment. The Tree houses are set on a high platform to get a feel of being very high amongst the branches and are linked by a bridge and made from round poles for the construction to blend with the existing trunks.

Natural play - playground climbing - St Paul's Children's Centre Tree House - Role Play