Martenscroft Nursery School and Children's centre are an inner-city nursery school in Hulme providing high quality holistic services for children. They work in collaboration with families and partners to address the inequalities that their children and families face. Examples of this are poor and inadequate housing, health (obesity, asthma, poor mental health and well-being) and a below national average of children reaching a good level of development at the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage.
We will be working in close collaboration with them during the action weeks and engaging with the children and their families to explore their desired outcomes for the project. We will also be working at the school to build the 1:1 prototype.
Posted 14 Mar 2022 14:27
At SenStory, you will be introduced to accessible sensory design for children through the exploration of installations and sensory experiences. You will gain design and visual representation skills through elaborate workshops in 3D and physical model-making, publication representation on InDesign and photoshop skills to enhance your mood board exploration and editing. We also aim to design and build our very own 1:1 senstory prototype!
Posted 14 Mar 2022 14:27
The sensory gardens will support improved physical fitness, health, mood and cognition. Gardening and plant care will help children develop gross and fine motor skills. Time outdoors, breathing fresh air, and being exposed to sunlight are extremely beneficial to the children’s overall physical health.
Sensory gardens have many therapeutic benefits. They help children develop important life skills including emotional regulation and self-reliance.
Sensory gardens are particularly beneficial to children with sensory processing issues, such as autism and other disabilities. It has also been shown to help with anxiety, fidgeting and attention disorders such as ADHD. Research shows that sensory gardens teach non-verbal children how to participate in a cooperative effort and it helps develop their non-verbal communication skills.
Posted 14 Mar 2022 18:14
The plan of activities for week 1!
After introducing ourselves to each other, we will be visiting Martenscroft on the first day to see our site. We also have guest speakers from MMU and Caukin Studio who will introduce us to ways to design for and work with children.
Introductory workshops into Photoshop, SketchUp and physical modelmaking taking place throughout the week will guide the brainstorming process.
During the week, mini design competitions will take place in groups, with the senses taking turns to be the main focus. These aim to help determine the site strategy and what we might choose to build at 1:1 scale.
Posted 11 May 2022 15:33
The plan of activities for week 2!
At the start of the week we will finalise the plan for our 1:1 installation, as well as create final visuals for the publication. We will have 2 teams - a modelmaking team and a publication team - working simultaneously throughout the week to reach the desired outputs. There will be an opportunity for the modelmaking team to work at Martenscroft on some of the days, to allow for the children to observe the building process.
On the final day, we will return to Martenscroft and observe how the children interact with our installation. We will also curate a pin-up display board in Martenscroft which summarises our design process of the project. Our concept will be handed over to Martenscroft, which they can then choose to take further and make a reality in the future if desired!
Posted 11 May 2022 15:55
Meet the team!
After introducing ourselves to each other, we headed over to Martenscroft to meet up with our collaborators.
Posted 16 May 2022 15:09
Christina MacRae talked to us about her relationship with Martenscroft and her research into listening to children and investigating sensory-motor learning. She also introduced us to the German pedagogue Froebel and his 'gifts', which were created to support children's learning and development in his kindergarten in Germany.
The talk was very insightful, and gave a useful introduction into the ways in which children learn through interaction and curiosity. Thank you Christina!
Posted 16 May 2022 15:30
We visited the site to take some photos and measurements. It was great to see the children playing outdoors and in the classrooms. It was lovely to see our poster in the reception too!
We had some useful discussions about the 'vision' for the project, as well as ways in which to provide connections to the wider community.
Posted 16 May 2022 16:23
During the afternoon, we split into three groups to explore the various spatial, environmental and material qualities of the site. Ideas were presented using a variety of media such as sketching and collage.
Posted 16 May 2022 18:03
We gained insight on designing for (and with) children from our session with Harry Thorpe from Caukin Studio this morning.
He gave us useful information on the various elements needed to design engaging and exciting spaces for children. By understanding the importance of incorporating play and education in design, as well as providing spaces which engage with the children's senses, we are able to bring this forward into the design of our sensory garden. Thank you Harry!
Posted 17 May 2022 12:35
Hard at work!
In the morning, we conducted a workshop on Photoshop where students were able to learn a few tips on the software. Following that, we had a discussion on precedents of sensory gardens and multi-generational spaces as a starting point to the design process.
Using the Photoshop skills learnt during the morning workshop, the afternoon activity consisted of creating collages and mood boards to present the ideas for multi-generational design gained from the precedent research.
Posted 17 May 2022 17:14
The collages created by our team!
Posted 18 May 2022 09:59
The mood boards created by our team!
Posted 18 May 2022 10:01
We started off the day with a workshop from Zain about SketchUp, AutoCAD and Illustrator, where everyone learned some useful tips and tricks. Then, we undertook our first design competitions of the week – working in groups, we focused on designing installations to explore “sight” and “scent”. Various models, collages and sketches were done to communicate ideas, and these were then presented to the rest of the group.
Posted 19 May 2022 10:41
The explorations of "scent" from our team!
There were some strong considerations for the types of plants that could be included. Some proposals also thought about the connections between visitors and the greenery, and how people could be taken through a 'journey' of experiencing different scents.
Posted 19 May 2022 10:55
The explorations of "sight" from our team!
Different shapes and patterns were considered, with some teams considering installations which could hang from the existing trees and fences.
Posted 19 May 2022 11:06
Ayesha started the day with a highly requested workshop on Revit, which helped introduce the undergraduate students to the software. For the rest of the day, we continued with our design competitions – this time, we focused on designing for “touch” and “sound”.
Posted 19 May 2022 17:57
The explorations of “touch” from our team!
The models and collages were a really effective way of communicating ideas for different textures which could appear on the existing fences and floor, or be integrated within new playful installations. Ideas for materiality also began to come through with these proposals.
Posted 19 May 2022 18:07
The explorations of “sound” from our team!
All of the groups expressed similar ideas, with proposed wind chimes to allow sound to travel naturally through the space, as well as larger instruments to provide a more interactive experience.
Posted 19 May 2022 18:11
The explorations of “taste” from our team!
Research was conducted into what plants would be needed in order to explore sweet, salty, sour and bitter flavors. The way these might appear on site was also considered - proposals included a small greenhouse, and a train with planting in each of the carriages.
Posted 21 May 2022 12:05
In the morning, we conducted our final design competition of the week, which explored "taste". Then, after reviewing everyone's proposals, we began to work on the final site plan!
At first, everyone created their own site plan, with each one considering the zoning of different senses to create an interesting journey through the site. Then, we came back together as one group to see how we could bring everyone's ideas together for the final proposal.
Posted 21 May 2022 14:20
The site plans done by our team!
Each one had it's own strengths, so our next steps are to combine these ideas and create a final proposal to move forward with in Week 2.
Posted 21 May 2022 15:08
After a quick recap of where we got up to on Friday, we spent the day discussing a 'storyline' for our proposal and incorporating this into a more detailed site plan.
We're now ready to start working on the final outputs - the visual representations and the physical prototypes!
Posted 23 May 2022 18:14
We spent the day working on the production of our final outputs.
We also decided on our final concept for the model! It will take the shape of a caterpillar, with the various sensory experiences within the site plan being represented through the different cylinders on the body. We were able to go to the B15 workshop to manufacture a wooden base, and the rest of the 'caterpillar' will be assembled using cardboard and other materials.
Posted 24 May 2022 21:22
Progress is being made! Looking forward to seeing these outputs develop over the final days of the project :)
Posted 24 May 2022 21:34
Another day hard at work! Both teams made some strong progress, and now the model is ready to assemble at Martenscroft on day 9.
Posted 26 May 2022 10:41
Our final day of working on the outputs and getting ready to present our proposal to Martenscroft on Friday! Some of the team were able to go to site to finish up the assembly of the model, whilst the rest continued the production of the final drawings and renders.
Posted 26 May 2022 21:44
The model is complete!
The wooden base supports the cardboard cylinders which make up the caterpillar's body. Each cylinder represents a different sense, and the children will be able to interact with them. Various craft materials were utilised to create an interesting and eye-catching prototype, which overall demonstrates the kinds of experiences that would be created in our garden proposal.
Posted 26 May 2022 21:58
Some close-up views of the model!
Posted 26 May 2022 21:59
We brought the complete model over to Martenscroft Nursery School, along with a notice board explaining our design for the garden. We presented our concept to the children, who seemed to really engage with the caterpillar's story!
Posted 27 May 2022 16:49
It was really exciting to see how the children interacted with the model - they seemed very interested in exploring the different textures, rotating the wheel of sounds and playing with the balloon!
Posted 27 May 2022 16:56
And that's a wrap!
Thank you SO much to our amazing team - each and every one of you worked so hard, and your effort and enthusiasm really shows in the quality of the outputs. It was an absolute pleasure to work with you all!!
A huge thank you as well to our guest speakers and external partners! We're really excited to see how this project progresses in the future. Our proposal highlights the many opportunities that the site has to become an engaging sensory garden for the school and the wider community, and hopefully it starts the conversation around funding to transform the space and make some of our visions a reality :)