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What Does This Mean?? 🌈🌈

Good afternoon <<First Name>>,

Did you know... it is not uncommon for a building, landscape, or interior design to be jam-packed with meaning? This embedding of meaning is commonplace in the worlds of art and graphic design and there are some elaborately-thought-through examples out there. The proper term for this is "design concept." Design concepts also exists in the architecture world. At Heidt and Depth, we attempt to provide as extensive and as personalized of a design concept as possible on every one of our projects (one example). Today I'll share with you how we embedded meaning into the design of a new playground at Zion Lutheran School in Brighton, Colorado.
Early iterations of the design concept at Zion Lutheran School

4 places telling 1 story

Cru, a Christian outreach nonprofit that works with students, uses 4 principles to describe the process by which a person can know God personally:
  1. God wants to have a relationship with humankind.
  2. Every human has turned their back on God. The consequence God imposes for this betrayal is that every human must die.
  3. God provides an alternative by which humans can still experience a relationship with God, despite death.
  4. By way of #3, humans can once again have this relationship with God.
- Adapted from Knowing God Personally by Cru

The Bible tells many stories as examples of these 4 principles. Each story, by way of being a story, features a physical setting. We selected 4 of these settings as inspiration for the design concept at Zion.
Note: Playground features noted with an asterisk (*) were repurposed from the previous version of the playground.

"Garden of Eden"

Several scenes from the "Garden of Eden" area. Photo taken during construction.

The Bible describes the first humans, Adam and Eve, residing in a lush natural environment where they could live in togetherness with God and one another.

Drawing from this inspiration, the "Garden of Eden" area at the Zion playground features an expansive lawn (artificial turf for practical purposes), a mature shade tree with a 55-foot spread*, shrubs*, picnic tables, boulders, and a Super Mario-style clay pipe* at the center. This is an area where students can interact with (some) natural elements in a comfortable and social environment.


"Desert Wilderness"

Panoramic view of the "Desert Wilderness" area. Photo taken during construction.

Upon betraying God, the Bible says that God sent Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden and forced their decedents to wander in a desert wilderness. While waiting for God to return them to the lush "Promised Land," the Bible says that these people continued to turn their back on God. Therefore, it says that God elected that they would die before they could enter this paradise.

In the playground design, the "Desert Wilderness" area is stark, rugged, separated from the other 3 areas, and full of obstacles and physical challenges. It features boulders, a climbing wall*, spinners, a balancing swing, and a wide open space with nothing but a mulch floor.


"Grave and Resurrection"

The "Grave" pipe*, flanked by boulders that separate it from the "Resurrection" area. Photo taken during construction.

The Bible says that God's alternative solution for separation from humans was to experience death Himself as a sacrifice, then "conquer" it by coming back to life. Thus, it argues that humans can once again have a relationship with God, elevating them out of the grave into good standing.

On the playground, we used another large clay pipe* to allude to the idea of death. Students enter this "Grave," and come out the other side to the "Resurrection" area, an area chock full of opportunities for students to experience being elevated and experience a sense of life and excitement, including that of other kids running around. There physical components of this area are a large, vibrantly colored play tower and swings.
Note: There are also a few "Easter eggs" (pun intended) in the "Grave and Resurrection" area:
  • There are 7 boulders flanking the "Grave" pipe. The Bible often uses the number 7 often when describing the idea of renewal, perfection, and God.
  • The highest slide on the tower can only be accessed via climbing through the upper canopy of ropes. This alludes to the Bible story of Zacchaeus, a man who was so compelled to have a renewed relationship with God that he climbed a tree for it.


Freshly painted lines on an basketball court*. Photo taken during construction.

The Bible uses the term "Heaven" to describe a place after death where those who have faith in God are united with Him and one another. It is also described as having paved streets.

A large concrete slab* covers approximately 0.2 acres on one side of the playground. Students can hang out in togetherness here and enjoy the idea of "being in God's presence" doing things they love: playing basketball, playing four square, playing hopscotch, or simply standing around talking (this is apparently a universally popular playground activity I was unaware of before starting this project).


Does design concept ultimately matter? 😉

One of Zion’s core values is providing a "high quality, Christ-centered education." The school was established in 1899, and has developed a reputation for doing just that. The design of the curriculum and the process by which the curriculum is executed are thoughtful and intentional in ensuring that this core values are fulfilled. Why not put the same thoughtfulness and intentionality into the architectural design?

When determining how to design a place, consider if and how it is currently fulfilling - and could fulfill - the values of your cause, your nonprofit, or your business. Is the design of the place allowing you to accomplish all the things you set out to? Is the design of the place allowing you to live out the things you believe in, which led you to pursuing your calling? By taking the time to understand our clients’ hearts behind their work, Heidt and Depth is able to help our clients execute their cause effectively through a thorough and meaningful design concept.

How can we help you do just that? Let us know with a response to this email.

Much love,

Neal Heidt
Placemaking Strategist | Heidt and Depth | 303-519-9453

PS: If you aren't familiar with the reference in the title of this email, no worries! Here is the viral video it came from.
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