The new Nature Conservation Area (outdoor teaching space) at Hounslow Heath Junior School is beginning to take shape. The Landmark Practice was commissioned by PWA Designs Limited in 2019 to re-design the space after the previous conservation area was re-purposed as a temporary storage and compound area during the construction of the new teaching block.
The new Conservation Area has been designed around two interconnected teaching spaces design to provide students with a multi-sensory experience where they can engage with the sights, sounds and scents of nature which are often not available in the urban environment. These spaces include:
The Woodland Glade – A quiet space for the class to sit together under the canopy of the trees; and
The Sensory Garden – An interactive space with sensory plants, dipping pond and waterfall.
The existing vegetation along the site boundary has been integrated into the scheme, with ecological enhancements including additional planting for shady areas, inclusion of bird boxes, ‘bug hotels’ and habitat piles (or hibernacula). Earth mounding along the north and east boundaries, constructed using waste material from the building works, will also be planted with a mix of plants chosen for their sensory qualities and areas of species rich grass. Natural materials have been chosen where possible using bound-gravel paths, timber fences and deck, wooden benches and tables. Reinforced grass, circular paths and extended table tops were proposed to ensure that spaces are accessible to wheelchair users.
To date, the paths, lawns, fences and pond (complete with solar powered waterfall and timber deck) have been installed and the earth mounding is ready for planting. Over the coming weeks a willow tunnel will be planted which will connect the two teaching areas, alongside a hidden stepping stone path. Other features due for installation are outdoor white boards, weather stations and additional flowering trees. A fantastic example of imaginative use of limited space, we look forward to returning to Hounslow Heath Junior School to see the completed scheme.