Shortlisted in Residential Parks in 2019:

VIBRANT DARING EPHEMERAL WILD _ Casa Montessori & Orff School by

Residential Project / Residential Project / Canada / Built in 2016 /


We live in a time of thrilling but also challenging tumultuous change in which a return to social solidarity, tolerance and participation increasingly gains in importance. We see landscape architecture as having the potential power to manage social conflicts and migration, and establish debates and live democracy.

The implementation of this proposition includes the establishment of new local communities through education and intercultural exchange. Against the current global challenges of sustainable development, climate change and migrations, this project demonstrates that small-scale interventions can play a key role as a catalyst for welcome and lived integration.

This pro-bono project has allowed us the luxury to radically ignore the conventional professional procedure. Low budgets are normally a challenge, but this project offers exemplary value and demonstrates a pioneering character with regard to budget, participation, execution and outcome. Collaborating on this project to transform the outdoor environment, we applied our notion of ‘Radical Play’ through spatial design practice.




A prairie school in Winnipeg, Manitoba, following Maria Montessori’s inclusive teachings is a home for families of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds including recent immigrants. Children of this school, ages 2-12, learn to expect that equal opportunities and treatment, irrespective of ethnic origin, skin color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or nationality, are based on democratic principles and tolerance.

The building process was characterized by the application of construction techniques and materials which allowed volunteers including children, teachers, students and families of any skill and commitment level to get involved in building, while learning and laughing together. This unique participatory method opened up new perspectives for the future. It built community and inspired focused participation.

The physical transformation of the outdoor play space was built on the belief in childish experimentation and creativity. Materials and spaces are activated and deactivated by the children, fluctuating freely between permanence, messiness, and a sense of the temporary. Texturing the land with uneven terrain, tall grasses, and diverse loose materials provided beauty and learning through the life and health of a ‘non-domesticated’ environment.

Before the transformation teachers observed a lot of aggressive play in the forms of monster chasing games, and fighting over possessions. Children now work together and have adventures of their own making in different areas of the playscape. The new playground proves that a naturalized environment increases creativity, co-operative play, and provides a stage for Radical Play and sustainable learning. In light of current global challenges, the school has become an important meeting point for the families and a place of tolerance and autonomy.

Project location: Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 3M4
Design year: 2011 – 2016
Year Built: 2013 – 2016


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