Natural Dimensions was appointed to design extensive grounds around a ground-breaking new pathfinder secondary school in Surrey which is a template school for low carbon technology and biophilic landscape principles. Natural Dimensions produced full tender documentation with full BIM coordination for the entire school grounds, a landscape management plan, and the initial Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment and landscape strategy for planning.
The design of the school grounds was guided by the client’s aspiration to make the grounds an integral part of the school experience and create an eco-centric landscape which responds to biophilic design principles in reflecting natural systems, symbols, textures and tones for psychological, physiological and spiritual replenishment whilst adapting to the current emergencies of climate change, flooding frequency, biodiversity and health.
The landscape design also responds to our extensive planning phase strategies. Within progressive design geometry, the design elements propose urban nature and woodland, specimen trees and structures to allow complex human / nature / outdoor interdependencies to develop within a pedagogic environment involving student well being, health, and fulfilling of potential embedded in the larger complex natural systems. The spatial arrangement of the landscape and the planting is designed to evoke natural environments using landform mounding and ditches, extensive grasses, perennials, shrubs and trees to provide a tapestry of colour, texture and movement with planting reflecting natural rhythms and seasons. Various spaces surround the school forming a natural envelope with meadows, wetland scrapes, sensory arrival zones, entrance plazas, woodland, allotments, an orchard and a memorial garden to a much loved former headmaster. A large 2500m2 courtyard at the south of the school is the main social space and comprises an integrated canopy (which drains into planting beds), outdoor dining, incidental meeting spaces, a stage, extensive naturalistic planting adjacent to the building and mounded landform. It contains a large number of trees to bring a forest feel into the social experience of the school.