Landscape Master Plan
We now have a landscape masterplan – a shared vision for our school grounds, which all of our community has helped to create and which we presented to our whole community in August 2019.
It has been created by the school and for the school, and will allow the grounds to support our children, teachers, parents and entire community with well organized, easily accessible spaces.
It outlines an ambitious scope, but one that is achievable, through community support, working bees, fundraising, sponsorships and grants.
Values & Guiding Principles
The feedback and ideas shared during our extensive community consultation in 2018/2019 have helped shape the plan.
Common themes emerged about what our community values about the school, what’s important, what’s missing that needs to be added and what’s not working that needs to be addressed.
These are reflected in the plan and are the guiding principles for the design of the grounds:
Sustainability – care for our school, care for our environment, light footprint, promoting a respect for the natural environment
Places for all children – need mixes of active and passive play spaces which support children of all ages. Sports areas and equipment for kids to be active, and quiet, secluded nooks for when children need space to withdraw.
Creative play – fostering natural creative play, adventure, sensory elements, climbing, building, making, immersion in the natural environment.
A learning landscape – a landscape for the teachers, with spaces which are an extension of the classroom and support the school curriculum.
Connection to nature – opportunity for children to connect to nature through play and build a love of and respect for the natural environment.
Making the most of what we have – spaces that are flexible, can be used to their best potential and for a range of activities.
Food production – vegetable gardens and composting areas and the way they are incorporated into the curriculum and used to each life skills.
Art – art as part of the landscape and school culture, integrated into the landscape and life of the school.
Practical – needs to be workable, able to be maintained, able to be built, able to be afforded.
School Grounds Designs
Welcoming Northcote Road Entrance
Entries into the school were identified as unwelcoming and not easily accessible, and the master plan looks to rationalise these and create more welcoming, accessible entrance statements. The existing entrance gate on Northcote Road next to the sandpit is to be re-established as a new major entrance, with a wider gate to allow smoother flow of foot traffic and access by prams or wheelchairs, a decorative paving detail and seats spilling onto the road verge, a new entry pergola and a series of raised garden beds inspired by the existing vegetable garden wicking bed containers outside the Prep building. This will become a more attractive meeting space for parents during pick up and drop off and a welcoming entrance to the school.
Densham Road Entrance & Habitat Garden
Entrances off Densham Road will be refocused, with a new main entrance created to the front of the school. The existing and much-loved Habitat Garden, a delightful natural space, will be expanded, reflecting the school and its children’s interest in sustainability and passion for the natural environment. Large rocks in this garden will have many uses including as an outdoor classroom and gathering space. (Is this the rock seating in the picture?). A new timber fence will be added along Densham Road to replace the hedge, and an accessible ramp to the front reception door will allow access for everyone to the main school building. The second entrance off Densham Road (to the south, near the pedestrian crossing) will be known as the “Art Walk” and will include seating / reading nooks in between raised garden beds and glazed art tiles created by the students.
The area outside the OOSHC Kitchen and picnic tables, where the Fairfax Wall is located, will become the Friendship Circle. Built around the Fairfax Wall (which was made in 1998) this garden will have a second sculptured wall and sitting rocks, creating an enclosed space for quiet and reflective play and inventiveness with loose part materials from the playpods. Crepe myrtle trees will provide colour, shade and interesting play areas, complementing the two old Peppercorn trees next to the Densham Road fence.
Adaptable quadrangle spaces outside the MPC & main building
The main quadrangle is too hot and exposed, with a hard asphalt surface, no shady areas or inviting nooks for passive, imaginary or quiet play and little capacity for people to move safely across it away from flying balls. The existing stage and steps outside the Main Building are also hot, exposed, and under used. The Master Plan looks to soften and shade this stage area by cutting into the asphalt with new tree plantings and adding two new ‘sway seats’ (a seat with a slight swing) against the main building. Two new deck areas will be created in front of the MPC and the Main Building, both of which are terraced to create spaces which fulfil multiple functions. These will become flexible play areas during school hours, increase access to the buildings and act as stages for assemblies and concerts. Both are shaded by existing and new trees and softened by planting.
An exciting feature of the plan is the giant bamboo forest proposed around the steel steps. Bamboo was widely requested by the children, and a series of cutouts of the asphalt, planted with Bambusa oldhamii will create a forest like effect, with the steps feeling like a tree house. Eventually the aim of the master plan is to build an actual tree house off the central landing of the steps, nestled in the bamboo forest.
Tomorrow’s Leaders Garden
To the south of the space in front of the Mod-C portable, next to the Dome, the Tomorrow’s Leaders garden will be established. This garden is based on designs produced by children in 2018 and is part of the ongoing Tomorrow’s Leaders for Sustainability Program, supported by the City Of Stonnington. Vegetable gardens, a chicken coup , a grass tunnel, biodiversity gardens and friendship seats will be created, along with a small, carefully designed storage shed and covered pergola space, appropriate for classes.
Log Trail & Obstacle Course
Areas around the school’s boundaries will be activated as part of the Master Plan, making the most of the small grounds. The area running alongside the laneway behind the Mod-D, Mod-C and Mod-N portable buildings, currently used for bike and scooter parking, will become an obstacle course and log walk. This will be a series of balancing logs and monkey bars that children can use to challenge themselves as well as for quiet play – making the most of the linear play space. This also forms part of a school-wide obstacle course style running track, which many children requested.
Tree planting for friendship, play and shade
A primary aim of the Master Plan is to increase tree planting and greenery across the site, and a tree planting plan in consultation with the school community and tree experts will help ensure the right trees are planted in the right locations for the greater benefit of the school. Trees can provide shade and play opportunities to strengthen friendships; they show the seasons through flowers and leaf colour changes, provide landmarks (‘meet you in the Bamboo Forest’), play props (gumnuts, Jacaranda seed pods and banksia brush flowers), attract birds and other wildlife and have obvious educational benefits.
For the most part, Armadale Primary School’s tree planting will be in asphalt cut-outs, designed to increase shade and create new play areas at minimum cost while reducing the amount of exposed asphalt area. Tree plantings listed below are all appropriate, but there are also other choices. The focus will be to plant small copses of a single species to give maximum impact including:
Illawarra Flame Trees (Brachychiton acerifolius), planted between the MPC and nature playground area
June Berries (Amalanchier canadensis), near the OOSHC kitchen, with candy floss white blossom flowers in spring and tasty dark purple berries in summer.
Crepe Myrtles (Lagerstroemia cvr.) around the Deck & Stage area of the Main Building and the Friendship Circle.
Jacarandas (Jacaranda mimosifolia) – to the rear of the sports courts.
Banksias (Banksia marginata) and Sheoaks forest in the nature playground to create opportunities for children to enjoy open-ended play and inspiration and to re-invigorate and re-charge outside the classroom.
An informal running track around the school runs around the nature play and sports areas and is designed as an obstacle course running track. This is in response to many requests from the children for a running track around the school, as well as requests for rock climbing walls and “ninja warrior” type courses. The original requests were difficult to achieve in a site this small, but the informal track provides many of the features. It allows for flexible use of the many nature play and sports areas as a more formal running and adventure course.
Sports Courts & Nature Playground
Sports Courts Upgrade
The masterplan design allows the courts to be expanded and re-configured to include two full sized basketball and netball courts, one full-sized tennis court, a junior-sized tennis court and two new shade shelters with seats. The edges of the court and unsightly rear fence will be softened by trees and climbers with seats and viewing areas. Extending the courts is seen as the best long-term solution as so many children (and the wider community) use them. The full-sized courts cater for older children and children of all ages will have more space for playing and PE classes. The sports courts upgrade was completed in July 2020 followed by the nature playground.
With the extension of the sports courts, and in response to the children’s needs for more nature play, the existing adjacent playground area is being redesigned. This will become a nature playground with a small water tank feeding a water play rill (like a dry creek bed), a natural sunken sandpit with boulder edges to prevent sand loss, the existing rope climbing play equipment (Komplan, installed in 2012) and new monkey bars, sensitively placed under new trees. A copse of Banksias and Sheoaks will provide shade and a space for withdrawn, creative play.