Established in 1954, Helen Deem Kindergarten is situated on a large site along Forbury Road, St. Clair, Dunedin. In 2013 the Kindergarten was rebuilt within the site, together with the relocated Dunedin Kindergarten Association, to become The Helen Deem Centre.
The design brief was to create an experiential play area, which provided kindergarten children with a wide range of enriching experiences within a safe but stimulating environment. The aim was to create a play area which was reflective of the New Zealand natural outdoor environment, and which exposed children to a safe element of risk, all within the safety guidelines of supervised early childhood facilities. Natural and sustainable materials were purposely selected for their aesthetics, low impact value, and non-toxic properties - hardwood timber (FSC approved), local gravel, rocks, and sand, combined with an almost exclusive NZ native plant palette. Positioning of large rocks and logs create natural play areas and seating nooks, while shock absorption layers of fall area surfaces are composed of non-toxic 100% recycled rubber tyres. Involvement in this project was from preparation of initial landscape concept, landscape design development, detailed planting plan and construction drawings, specification documentation, and included working with the project management team during contract administration and construction observation phases.
The kindergarten committee is managing the final stages of this project, which are reliant on fundraising and are yet to be completed.