This Lush, Multi-Sensory Playscape Is Hidden Away On A City Rooftop

Lenox Hill Neighborhood House–a Manhattan non-profit that offers an array of social services to low income individuals and families–is recognized nationally for its early education program for at-risk children. So when it won a grant to renovate its roof, it took the opportunity to introduce another tool for teaching kids: A multi-sensory playscape.

[Photo: courtesy Highview Creations]
Highview Creations, a New York-based green roof company, conceived of a design with details that teach kids about balance, dexterity, and hand-eye coordination (like most playgrounds). For example, there are tunnels to crawl inside, slopes to climb, blocks that encourage creative play, and stairs to scramble upon. Additionally, plants are placed around the playscape and grouped thematically. One area has aromatic plants that emphasize smell, another area has very tactile foliage. Most of them are native species chosen to reflect what would grow naturally in New York and attract pollinators like butterflies and bees.

“We wanted to have an interactive area where kids could learn about local ecology and agriculture, and kids could get their hands dirty,” Eric Dalski, founder of Highview creations, says. “Underprivileged kids often see cement, street tree, fire hydrant–we wanted to show them a natural setting where they can learn and have experiences.”

See the playscape in the slide show above.