Southwark School

Artist rendering of Southwark SchoolStudents and community members worked together to create a design for the schoolyard that celebrated their diverse neighborhood. The result is Our Park, a conceptually woven landscape for play, learning and community exchangePhoto credit: Gamar + Mateo

The Southwark School in South Philadelphia has recently been named among Philadelphia's first Community Schools, and we are thrilled to help the school become an anchor institution for neighborhood families. In partnership with the School District of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Water, and the Mural Arts Program, we are transforming the schoolyard into a culturally-rich space for play and outdoor learning.

Through creative placemaking, we worked with students, staff, the community and artists to conceive of a park that would celebrate the unique cultural diversity of the community while bringing people together in a safe and vibrant park, “Our Park". Our Park is a woven landscape of gardens and hardscape that create pockets for activities and open spaces for performance. Students and neighboring kids will be able to play in the playgrounds, garden in the beds, learn in the maker-space classroom and play soccer. Parents, caregivers, and community members will be able to gather, garden, play, and share cultural resources and skills.

At every school, we conceive of a new space. At Southwark, we learned about the need for students to calm down. With a high population of Emotional Support students at Southwark, this was really important. We are creating a calming garden with intimate seating in a less active area of the schoolyard. Our goal is to incorporate planting, such as lavender and camomile, to provide soothing smells to help students achieve a calm state.

Now that the initial design is created, we are working with our agency partners and Mural Arts to document the concept for construction. When complete, the new schoolyard will be open for the entire community to enjoy.

If community members have comments on the design concept, please contact Danielle Denk by email or phone at 267-519-5303.

Explore our work

Since 1972, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than 3.3 million acres and completed more than 5,400 park and conservation projects.