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A Space to Play and Learn
Taking Global Education to the Playground

by Katie Swanson, Communications Specialist, Landscape Structures


At the 6-12 year old playground at Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis the kids travel from Cape Horn, South America to the Great Wall of China without touching the ground, traveling through six continents and interacting with seven monuments. There are 14 play structures, and safety surfacing that includes outlines of the continents. The playground flies the flags of 18 countries. Photos: Landscape Structures, Inc.

Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis, Tenn., is a private coed school (preschool through 12th grade) that began as a girls' school in 1926. Thirty percent of Lausanne's students and/or parents were not born in the U.S. The student body currently represents 54 countries.

In keeping with the school's global reach, the school created a playground design with a world theme.

"We really want to provide a global education for our students," so we've incorporated that sense of global thinking into the playground," explains Stewart Crais, director of operations at Lausanne Collegiate School.


As the preschool to grade 12 students (and their parents) hail from 54 countries, the playground design offers "tour of the world" play structures. The domed roof and intricate panel designs of the Taj Mahal beckon; nearby, kids perfect their climbing skills as they navigate up the concrete-sculpted Great Wall of China.

Global Design
Stewart reached out to Recreational Concepts, the exclusive distributor of Landscape Structures commercial playground equipment in Tennessee, to learn more about what they could bring to the playground project.

"Once we understood their vision for the playground, we reached out to Landscape Structures and told them about the opportunity," said Dan Stewart, principal of Recreational Concepts. "Then we worked with a custom playground designer that really listened to the client and delivered an amazingly creative design."


The Tower of Pisa is replicated on the playground, but without the full structural 4-degree tilt to the right of the original. It's reported the bell tower in Pisa used to tilt 5.5 degrees before restoration work. As you really can't cant a play structure out of plumb for safety sake, a little nod to the left here captures the spirit of the Pisa Tower.

With the designer on board, Dan and his team collaborated with Lausanne on their project. After several meetings and reviewing sketches from third grade students, who were assigned a class project of designing a playground that represented Lausanne, Dan presented a winning design to the school.

The playground design includes 14 different play structures that represent a tour of the world. The safety surfacing design mimics a world map. Students travel from Cape Horn, South America to the Great Wall of China without touching the ground, traveling through six continents and interacting with seven monuments with the flags of 18 different countries flying above.


The Big Ben clock tower facade delivers activity panels and connects kids to the next challenge via climbing nets.

The playground includes the ZipKrooz, a playground zip line that takes students from the Horn of Africa to Australia. Climbable replicas of Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal provide opportunities for kids to interact and engage in imaginative play, and discover the world beyond them while staying active.


The children climbing up to the jungle tree house have the choice of two sets of dual slides to descend to the jungle floor, which is an outline of the South American continent. The rustic roof is flying the flag of Chile.

2 to 5 Year Old Play
In addition to the world-themed playground, there is a play space designed specifically for the 2 to 5 year olds. Included in the design is Smart Play, a motion play structure scaled just right for developing toddlers and preschoolers. The play structure encourages play and learning with its 16 built-in activities: an interactive sand shoot; a winding race car track; bongos and ring-a-bells to play; and geometric shape-and-fit games. The space includes an OmniSpin, set apart from the play structures, for additional play fun.


To encourage quiet imaginative play, the designers included a "Bedouin tent" that offers a cluster of bazaar-themed elements sculpted from concrete.

Enhanced Curb Appeal
The playground opened to great success on Aug. 17, 2015, with more than 200 students and families of the Lausanne Collegiate School community. And although it has been open since the beginning of the school year, students are still excited to play.


Kids can ascend to the tree house (back middle) three ways: via the log steppers; up the steps of the structure flying the Brazilian flag (left), then across the suspended footbridge to the ramp; or by climbing the concrete Aztec Pyramids to the ramp. The roof with the butterfly motif flies the Mexican flag. The swiveling, overhead rings (left) are the modern version of monkey bars; kids challenge their arm strength and stamina by swinging from ring to ring.

"Even after being in school for months, the students still can't wait to get out on the playground each day in anticipation of their time exploring all of their favorite features and activities around the world," said Stewart. "Our fifth and sixth graders have been equally excited that they now have access to this great play space as well."

Even more, the playground has enhanced the school's curb appeal to the outside world.


The older kids choose their own adventures, as they navigate the climbing complexities of the GeoNetrix play structure and the undulating wave climbers. The colored triangular roof panels are translucent polycarbonate, which allows the sun to transmit those colors to the ground.

"Being one of many independent schools in the Memphis community, it is important that we have the opportunity to distinguish ourselves for the unique opportunities that await students at Lausanne," Stewart added. "Now passersby see the playground and instantly get a sense of our community's global mindedness and realize that we must have even more to offer inside the doors."


Kids can bring their Matchbox cars from home and race them down the winding track.

Project Team
Owner/Developer: Lausanne Collegiate School; Stewart Crais, Director of Operations
Contractors: Paul Roland, CPSI, Hammer Down Outdoor Creations; David Jones, Jones and Gore
Engineers: Joel Johnson, Burr & Cole Consulting Engineers, Inc.; and Christopher Perry, RLS, ETI Corp.
Playground Manufacturer: Landscape Structures Inc.
Sales Consultants/Project Manager: Recreational Concepts, LLC
Surfacing Manufacturer: ForeverLawn


Scaled just right for developing toddlers and preschoolers ages 2 to 3, 'Smart Play Motion' packs a lot of play into its compact size with 16 activities built in, including cut-out shapes to peek through; an interactive sand shoot; ring-a-bells and bongos to play; and geometric shape-and-fit games.


The OmniSpin engages the 2-5 year olds' sense of balance, spatial orientation, movement and balance, while encouraging them to participate in interactive play.

As seen in LASN magazine, June 2016.

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October 17, 2019, 6:51 am PDT

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