These literary inspired playspaces are whimsical fantasies created to encourage not only play but also a love of reading and storytelling.

Created on the grounds of A.B. Paterson College on the Gold Coast, the Lilly Pilly Learning Centre and the Gumnut Garden were inspired by the age-old tales of “Snugglepot and Cuddlepie” by beloved Australian author, May Gibbs. Through these playspaces children are transported into a magical world in which their creativity can be ignited; a world in which they feel small and encapsulated by the wonders around them; and a sensory place where they can read inside giant gumleaf pods, sit with their friends on giant flower buds or play on a gigantic caterpillar.

A.B. Paterson Reading Garden - Art Dinouveau

These unique learning environments were designed to encourage creative thinking, collaboration in play, communication through storytelling and drama, a love of reading and the development of literacy, social skills and a love of learning. It provides a wonderful opportunity for the development of positive relationships and the harnessing of the students’ natural curiosity, transforming the physical into a thriving and dynamic environment for 21st Century learning.

The Lilly Pilly Learning Centre and the Gumnut Garden were designed in close partnership between A.B. Paterson College and Burling Brown Architects, with the key nature play elements from the Art Dinouveau Bush Baby Play collection in mind. The collaborative energy of College Principal Brian Grimes, Architects Andrew Brown and Simon Brook, artists Alan Groves and Sascha Joffe and Site Manager Kingston Rose (Stokes Wheeler) fused together to create a new benchmark in outdoor learning environments.

AB Paterson College Playground - Art Dinouveau

The Lilly Pilly Learning Centre features a hollow log climber and tunnel, a giant mushroom table and chair set, giant pumpkins, tomatoes, daisies and watermelons, as well as a traditional timber ‘club’ house in the College colours. There are also several fossils hidden in the sandpit for discovery. The Gumnut Garden features gum leaf play pods, gum blossom seats, giant toadstools for shade, gumnut arm chairs and a dry creek bed all nestled within the leafy surrounds of May Gibbs’s flowering eucalypts which inspired it all.

The Gumnut Garden and the Lilly Pilly Learning Centre were officially opened in August 2015 by QLD Minister for Education, Hon. Kate Jones MP, who stated, “A.B. Paterson College has created a fantastic environment to ignite children’s natural sense of wonder and curiosity while inspiring a love for literacy and learning.”

A.B. Paterson College Playground - Art Dinouveau

Client: A.B. Paterson College
Design: Burling Brown Architects
Natural Play Elements: Art Dinouveau
Project Management and Construction: Stokes Wheeler
Surfacing: Penfolds Projects
Safety Audit and Certification: Consulting Coordination

Article first published on Outdoor Design Source.

More pictures of the Lilly Pilly Learning Centre and the Gumnut Garden.