One of our specialities is designing schoolyards – this is one of our most important creative challenges. We see schoolyards as spaces of play and learning which complement the classroom. The open, flexible spaces encourage movement and creativity. A specific challenge in schoolyard design – especially post-Covid – is the need to use them also as learning spaces, enabling the practical application of innovative learning principles taking place outside of the classroom.
The guiding principle in our planning is to create and differentiate a wide range of areas to make each one unique. We strive to have all of the design levels, from the overall look down to the tiniest details, form a play environment, with all of the elements corresponding to the maximum with the architectural structure in terms of form, material, and colour.
The Neta’im Elementary School extends over five dunams (approx. 1.25 acres) in a rural area adjacent to Kibbutz Bet HaEmek. Our goal was to create a space with gentle, natural formal and material elements integrated into the architectural language of the classroom complex. There is a close and evident connection evident, for example, in the circular benches echoing the round openings in the paving and the use of a uniform palette. To convey a feeling of space in an area “imprisoned” between buildings and the open landscape, we played with topography, from creating grassy hilly areas to sunken benches for gathering.
Drainage water management directs the runoff into a channel-shaped stream. Rainwater flows into a filtration basin located at the edge of the channel, and from there underground. We added small bridges over the channel to stimulate movement and transition from side to side on various levels. In this way, we used the components of the water infrastructures in the schoolyards to benefit the creation of a space for observation, movement, and play.
Landscape architect’s Firm: BO Landscape Architects, Beeri Ben Shalom and Orna Ben Zioni
Architect’s Firm: Amsterdam Ben-nun Architects
Client: Mate Asher Municipality
Project Location: Beit Ha’emek kibbutz, Israel
Completion Year: 2022
Gross Built: 7000 square meter
Lead Architects: Idit Israel
Photo credits: Amit Geron, Asaf Ben-nun
Video credits: Noam Haimovich