An Almost Natural Playground

Redding School of the Arts

“I cannot wait until the new school because I never had a playground that has grass,” was one youngster’s plea to us during our student interviews, and it became a rallying cry for our playground design. We made an early decision to preserve existing mature oak trees on the construction site, and include a natural grass playing field in the design. After all, the idea of a completely natural playground – where trees and grass are blended with creative landforms – is certainly not new, but we wanted to provide both nature and structure. To create that balance, we worked with Shapiro Didway to create a mixture of elements that combine nature with hardscape, climbing structures and outdoor musical instruments. We even added a zip line and a slide carved into a huge earth mound. It’s a space whose only limit is a child’s imagination.


  • Client: The McConnell Foundation
  • Location: Redding, California
  • Date Completed: 2011


  • Retention of existing mature oak trees, with subsurface drip irrigation system