Built around the theme of Seven Spaces (a number inspired by the seven principles affirmed by Universalists), the First Unitarian Church of St. Louis’ Children’s Play Garden juxtaposes materials and natural play elements into a spatial collage for multi-aged, flexible and creative children’s play.
Each of the sequential spaces is designed for an activity and is defined by a unique arrangement of lawn pavers. Garden, the first space, incorporates existing raised garden beds; in Explore, children can run through and hide in a vine-covered pergola; Balance contains a wooden balance beam; Climb is composed of a centrally placed rock boulder amphitheater; Hop provides a patchwork of pavers arranged for human chess and hopscotch; and Perform is stocked with outdoor musical play instruments below a new tree canopy. The seventh space, Rest, is a curved gravel niche dotted with fixed and swinging benches that form the western edge of the garden. Counter balancing and framing the garden on the east is a curvilinear entry path that sinuously connects each outdoor room and is shaded by existing (and beloved) crabapple trees.
The resulting textural tapestry is screened from Kingshighway and alley traffic by a fence and ornamental grass buffer, helping to create a safe, elegant and fun landscape for congregation members and guests to enjoy.