Research indicates that women and men have different preferences when it comes to physical exercise and facilities that support it. This also applies to kids, and a special effort to engage girls in exercise during school hours calls for designs that support their wishes.
The overall aim with the design of the new schoolyard in Skørping School, Denmark was to engage a broader number of kids in physical exercise, including girls. Surveys on young kids and their movement patterns reveal that boys spread out and occupy open spaces, whereas girls cluster and occupy edge zones. By weaving the schoolyard and the surrounding forest together, the vision was to create a more diverse palette of exercise options for all kids. As a part of the design, the team created a wooden loop as a route to the forest and back, encompassing many different elements such as a grandstand, portal, balance beam, climb ladder, hangerbenches and a treetop house. The loop also has an outdoor lounge for group work, a big screen and seating for outdoor teaching. The design of the schoolyard extends the different ways of being active and contributes with zonings for ‘softer’ types of exercise and more edge zones and facilities infusing safety for shy and anxious kids. Research conducted after the construction of the schoolyard has shown that the wooden loop has been successful in engaging more girls in active play during breaks.