Merstham Park Biophilic School

Client


McAvoy

Architect


Arkilab

Year


2021

Project Type


Education

Status


In Progress

Intro

Natural Dimensions was appointed to design extensive grounds around a ground-breaking new secondary school in Surrey. Natural Dimensions produced full tender documentation with full BIM coordination for a low carbon school set within a new ‘biophilic’ landscape. We also produced a full management plan, and the initial Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment and landscape strategy for planning.

The Design

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 and an orchard. The largest social space is the courtyard which is the green heart of the school and comprises an integrated canopy, outdoor dining, incidental meeting spaces, a stage, podiums and extensive planting adjacent to the building.