Nov 28 2013

Award Winning Design Truly A’maze’ing

Sunderland City Council’s Landscape Design Team has won a prestigious award for its work to create a sensory maze for children with severe learning difficulties and autism at Columbia Grange School.

The Northern Design Awards bring together designers, retailers and property developers in a celebration of Northern design and style. The award for Commercial Landscaping Design (judged by a panel consisting of seven judges including Sir Terence Conran, Linda Barker and Wayne Hemingway) was presented to the team from Sunderland City Council by Wayne Hemingway MBE in front of industry figures from all over the North of England.

Columbia Grange School approached Sunderland City Council’s in-house landscape architects with an ambitious idea; to create a sensory maze garden for two to eleven-year-old pupils. With colour and sound stimulation as the main drivers the landscape team was commissioned to create a stimulating safe learning environment, with a strong emphasis on natural materials and planting, complimenting the existing play area.


Sunderland City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, Councillor Pat Smith said: “This is a fantastic achievement and recognition of some great work being delivered by the City Council to schools in Sunderland. The success is made all the more notable when you consider the whole project was completed in six months from design to completion.”

“The standard of competition from other projects in places such as Cleveland, Cheshire and Lancashire was very high and I’m delighted that the panel agreed that this project was the winner.”

Deputy Headteacher of Columbia Grange School, Rosey Walker added: “The area that has been created has delivered everything we hoped for. The designer has worked in partnership with the school, to create an area that is not only great to look at but also offers a safe, motivating and exciting area for our pupils.”

Columbia Grange is a co-educational school for children with severe learning difficulties and/or autism between the ages of two to eleven years. The school opened in September 2003 and is a purpose-built provision with additional facilities for those pupils with autism. The school benefits from assessment facilities in our nursery, various therapy rooms, indoor/outdoor adventure playground, information technology room, music room, library, food technology room, sound and light studio and a parent’s room. The school has extensive outdoor facilities including a multi-purpose play area, pupil’s garden, nature trail and two mini soccer pitches.

Landscape Architect Philip Dorian worked with Handspring Design Ltd to develop multi functional outdoor structures with different textures, colours and form. An enclosed cordwood roundhouse became the destination point, with a series of mature hedge lined footpaths leading to it. A pergola with coloured perspex offered rest and shade as children make their journey through the maze.

Trevor Atkinson and Co Ltd constructed the hard and soft landscape works.


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