Conestee Nature Preserve: Nature Playscape

The Nature Playscape at Conestee Nature Preserve (CNP), Greenville, SC, offers a bounded space dedicated to childhood freedom to explore, discover, play in, and learn about nature – and above all, have fun with family and friends. Designed through a collaborative process, the 0.8-acre space reflects CNP goals of conservation and the strengthening of human connections to nature.

NLI facilitated a participatory design process resulting in the design of an innovative space exemplifying best practices, informed by the latest research to support healthy outdoor play and learning in the 500-acre Reedy River corridor preserve.

The Nature Playscape is designed to accommodate intergenerational, active users from toddlers to elders, in comfortable, shady surroundings. Eighteen primary activity settings (highly active to quietly contemplative), interwoven among the trees, are illustrated in the poster photos from other NLI projects and research sites.

Community enthusiasm, voiced in an online survey, staff engagement, and site opportunities drove the design programming of activity settings that mimic native wildlife habitats like beaver dens and heron rookeries. Looping pathways, elevated decks, and nature’s loose parts will motivate freeform nature play, immersing children in the woods to explore and discover the wonders of native flora and fauna.

Project implementation is underway, with NLI continuing to collaborate with design professionals and other experts to playfully engage children and families with diverse plant and animal life.

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