On January 10, 2017, Seferian Design Group was recognized with an Award of Excellence from Landscape Ontario for the design of 35 early learning outdoor childcare play areas for the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. Brad Smith, a Senior Landscape Architect at Seferian Design Group accepted the award on behalf of the team. Since 2014, Seferian Design Group has designed over 100 play spaces for children within the School Board.
The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board is one of the largest and most diverse districts in Ontario, operating 149 Elementary and Secondary Catholic schools throughout Mississauga, Brampton, Caledon and Orangeville.
With a budget of $2.5 million, the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board had design programming requirements: the transformation of plain, sterile asphalt yards into low-maintenance, yet dynamic outdoor learning environments, instead of just playgrounds. Bearing that in mind, the SDG design team started developing the overall concept which has become a pioneer in Canada. Construction was initiated and completed in two months. Former asphalt jungles were replaced with brightly coloured asphalt and soft turf, big outdoor blackboards, planters for gardening, dramatic play areas, and wooden stages. Painted mathematical shapes and the alphabet were provided to be used by the teachers as learning tools extended to the outside, where kindergarten kids are exposed to at least two 40-minute blocks each day. After consultation with the children, each school chose a unique carving created by a local artist. The carvings, always an animal indigenous to Ontario, provide an identity to each play area. Some students have named their particular carving, acting as the school mascot in some instances.
In order to keep the project on budget, the design combined elements of naturalized yards with the existing asphalt pads, creating a hybrid version that provides fun opportunities of learning and discovery, and also promotes a reconnection with nature.
The scope of work included liaison with Board staff and representatives from all Authorities having jurisdiction, preparation of analysis with recommendations, proposals and designs, working drawings and specifications for tendering and construction, general review during construction, and all contract administration functions, including post occupancy to total completion and warranty period. The designs were in compliance with the applicable standards, guidelines and requirements to ensure safety. SDG has also assisted the Board with presentations and design workshops during project development.