High Tech ECE-8 | Learning Landscape

Denver, Colorado

Conservatory Green is a shared school campus for two Denver Public School of Science and Technology schools: Conservatory Green Middle School and High Tech Elementary School.

This Learning Landscape combines colors, patterns and textures of animals, insects and patterns found in nature. Special design features include integrating fun and colorful educational symbolism like a butterfly lifecycle walkway, a U.S. map painted on asphalt, nature-themed play equipment with dragonfly-like patterns, abstract insect forms embedded into play pits, a flight path of a bee integrated into an outdoor adventure area. QR codes etched into a maze integrated the learning components.

The site’s animal and nature theme is interwoven throughout the site. An discovery area is themed around plant life and includes an outdoor classroom with a tactile walk. At the main entry plaza, etched water patterns provide a visual progression typically found in a watershed.  There is a student garden area with natural materials, and numerous native materials and plantings. These include a buff sandstone amphitheater with shade structures featured leaf cutouts, a large cottonwood stump that creates a picnic table and seats, and a footbridge bridge crosses a cobble stream bed. Etched stepping stones are embedded in the crushed gravel walkways, and a pathway of tree stumps form an adventurous balance walk.  The Kitchen Community designed and installed whimsical, macaroni shaped garden beds for hands-on learning experiences. 

The landscape design also includes common amenities appropriate to a school site including outdoor recreation and play fields, open spaces, and plazas to include the community, along with carefully planned parking and student drop-off and pick-up zones and bus access. The parking lot contains a porous landscape detention island to help clean surface runoff before entering nearby drainage ways.

Unique Site Features:

  • Insect and plant-themed play area
  • Synthetic turf play mound
  • Wavy ECE trike track
  • Art plaza
  • Butterfly-shaped primary play pit
  • Bee flight path across playground
  • Shady playground gathering area
  • Butterfly life cycle educational area
  • Native species-themed four-square
  • Fish shaped intermediate play pit
  • Turtle PIP-surfaced mound
  • Custom leaf-temed gateway structure
  • QR code educational maze
  • Water-themed main entry with confluence plaza
  • Nature play exploratory area, including:
    • Footbridge over dry creekbed
    • Natural log table and seating
    • Log balance course
    • Interpretive stepping stone path
    • Mushroom table and seating
    • Soft surface track loop
    • Student garden beds
  • Natural outdoor classroom with custom leaf shade structure
  • Large multi-use athletic field
  • Porous landscape detention parking lot island

featured in Landscape Record magazine (page 7)