High Tech ECE-8

Denver, CO

Conservatory Green Focuses on Animals, Insects and Patterns of Nature on the shared school campus of Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST): Conservatory Green Middle School and High Tech Elementary School.

The theme for 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, the US 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, and QR codes etched into a maze providing an integrated learning component.

The site’s animal and nature theming is interwoven throughout the site. An outdoor discovery area is themed around plant life and includes an outdoor classroom with a tactile discovery walk. At the main entry plaza, etched water patterns provide a visual progression typically found in a watershed.  And in the student garden area, natural materials make up the site, with plentiful native materials and plantings: a buff sandstone amphitheater sits in dappled shade formed by leaf cutouts in the shade structures, a large cottonwood stump creates a picnic table and seats, 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 intended 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 embrace the community, along with carefully planned parking and student drop-off and pick-up zones for both parent 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 Theme ECE 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 Themed Gateway Structure
  • QR Code Educational Maze
  • Water Themed Main Entry with Confluence Plaza
  • Nature Play Exploratory Area:
    • 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

This project was featured in Landscape Record magazine, click here to view it online (page 7)