What makes an outdoor space different from time spent indoors in a classroom or gym? Emotional and social needs of children can be better met in the outdoors, where a more flexible type of space exists. The character of the outdoor environment on a school ground is linked to childhood development, and a space that can adapt to different children’s needs will better facilitate healthy development.

What is it?

Character refers to the overall feel and design intent of your outdoor play space. The 7Cs identified four architectural character types currently existing: modern, organic, modular, and re-use. These physical characteristics have been successfully used in European studies of child care environments and they provide an effective way to code for design type.

What to do?

The design team should write a brief mission statement that defines the goals of the centre and how the character or “overall feel” of the outdoor play space will reflect and support these goals. Linking the mission statement to the physical character of the play space is paramount to the design process.