In an era dominated by the digital, concerns have arisen over the impact of prolonged, sedentary screen-time on child health and well-being. As a response, invested parents, educators, and designers have moved to combat high-tech overexposure with low-tech activities grounded in unstructured outdoor exploration, or ‘nature play.’
Motivated by a desire to integrate informal environmental learning into the daily lives of Aspen youth, and supported by funds from Pitkin County’s Kids First, the Director of Aspen Mountain Tots partnered with Bluegreen to develop a learning playscape specific to the needs of the tiniest of adventurers: little ones aged 8 weeks to 3 years. What ensued was an unprecedented opportunity to utilize personal experience raising curious youngsters to inform the development of an integrated tree 'house' boardwalk, rotating fairy garden, willow fort, tree trunk hop and communication station (pots and pans + boards) that comprise an interchangeable playground that can be swapped out for variety in experience. Uncommon in its focus on active-living for early childhood, Learning Playscape offers an example of nature play scaled to stimulate the minds of the barely-knee-high.
project type: landscape architecture
location: aspen, colorado
client: aspen mountain tots