Folly Forest: From Asphalt to Educational Landscape

Browsing through the latest issue of Azure magazine, one can see socially conscious design is making its way even into the far reaches of Winnipeg, Canada. Folly Forest, a great, small project at the Stratchona School, which is in a low-income neighborhood, was put together with just $80,000 by local design firm Straub Thurmayr Landscape Architects and Urban Designers.

50-year old asphalt was broken apart so 100 trees could be planted within bright red and yellow-lined star-shaped spaces. Azure tells us: “To add rich texture and provide ground cover for the new plantings, they arranged bricks, logs, and stones inside the bases.”

There are also “rusty cauldrons” and “silvery wooden beams,” found objects that add an industrial glamor.

The project has deservedly taken home a ton of Canadian design awards. Azure‘s jury gave it a merit award, and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA) awarded it a citation. CSLA said the project “demonstrates the immense potential of landscape architecture as a spatial and social transformer. It showcases how a simple measure can take ecological and aesthetic effects and turn them into the formative element of design.”

The Prairie Design Awards also honored the project, writing that at just $20 per square foot, nature is allowed to “take root through an asymmetrically disposed composition of newly planted trees, benches, follies and earthen mounds. The program fosters playful engagement, through the eyes of a child, and provides any visitor, young or old, to engage with a truly delightful and special place.”

But beyond all the accolades from the design world, the teachers and kids at the school seem to get a lot of out their rugged new green space, too. Erin Hammond, a teacher at Stratchona School, told CBC News, the new space has been a boon for the kids. “It’s just been an amazing enticement to get kids outside.”

Teachers are using the green space to start new conversations about ecology. “Kids are going, ‘How come that tree has more leaves than this one?’ Well, that one has more sun than this one,” said Hammond.

See a video about the project.

One thought on “Folly Forest: From Asphalt to Educational Landscape

  1. scientiste 08/11/2014 / 11:40 am

    Reblogged this on Mental Flowers and commented:
    A great example of reclaiming asphalt and turning it into a more humane landscape.

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