We are excited to announce that as of September 15th, we have officially completed Phase 1 of our Naturescape project!
Most of you are probably wondering what that means. Well, let me explain.
There are 4 main Phases to our project:
- Phase 1 - Concept Design
- Phase 2 - Fundraising
- Phase 3 - Technical Drawings
- Phase 4 - Construction
The goal of the concept design phase is really to get your vision on paper and to obtain an initial cost estimate so you have a good idea of how much you need to raise to complete your project.
This summer we hired Bienenstock Design & Consulting to work with us on this step. We selected Bienenstock primarily because they have a wealth of experience designing and building Natural Playgrounds (check out their portfolio here), but also because they were so responsive and seemed to be easy to work with. We really felt as though they were the best fit for us…and we have not been disappointed!
We had our initial design meeting onsite with our senior advisor, Jeff, on July 25th. He met us at the school and held a session for us where we talked about the benefits of natural playgrounds and shared our vision of what we would like to see in the space. This also provided him an opportunity for him to walk the site and take pictures to take back to his team so that they had a better understanding of what the site looks like. (Did I mention that his team consists not only of landscape design architects, but also an early childhood educator, a kinesiologist and graphics artists?).
Jeff presented us with the first concept art on August 16th. We were all blown away by the attention to detail that he and his team put into the design. Not only had they included all of the elements that we had asked for, but they had carefully considered how children would flow through the area, site lines for supervision, accessibility (from a physical and mental perspective) and other practical items such as placement of storage throughout the space that would allow easy access to items during recess.
After the meeting, Jeff summarized everything that we talked about in official meeting minutes and sent them off for us to review, make changes and sign off on before he and his team proceeded to the next iteration.
We met 2 additional times throughout the summer to refine the plans to make sure everything was exactly as we wanted it. Our final meeting was on September 15th where Jeff presented us the finalized concept design. We hope you like it as much as we do!
So what are the next steps? Well, the first step is raising the funds. The total estimated cost for the project is $325,000 and we have approximately $250,000 left to go as we have a $70,000 CFEP grant and a $5,000 commitment from the Riverbed Community League. We have applied for some grants (and will continue to apply to more) and will be kicking off our fundraising campaign at Meet the Staff night on September 20th.
Once the funds are secured, we will request Bienenstock to start Phase 3. This is is when the detailed technical drawings and construction documents are prepared. The exact details such as the type of trees and what material will be used for the pathways will be fine tuned at this time . We will also have a more accurate cost estimate so we will know if we have sufficient funds to put shovels in the ground.
I hope that this post has provided you with a good overview of the different phases we will be going through and a better understanding of what took place this summer.
If you are interested in getting involved, please reach out to us and let us know how you would like to contribute!