Birkerød Residential Garden

I designed a full planting plan for a beekeeper and his family in Birkerød. I look forward to seeing how it progresses.

The clients were big fans of David Austin roses, so I loved researching and including them in the design. It was also really great to focus on the bees and their needs.

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Buchholz Refugee Housing

I worked with Hauschild + Siegel Architects on a project outside Hamburg, developing a concept plan for the landscape spaces of a new refugee housing project. The focus was on how to help the residents feel ownership of their outdoor space and encourage a connection with their immediate environment and from there to the wider community.

The drawings below are as follows:

  1. Architects 3D drawing of the final plan
  2. My concept plan
  3. Concept sheet
  4. Diagrams showing the concept behind the design

Isometrie Export copy

01-BHZ_160105_Landscape colour concept-06 copyLandscape concept ideas-02 copyLandscape concept diagrams03 copy

Charlottenlund Residential Garden

In collaboration with Elkiær + Ebbeskov Architects, I designed a large planting area on a challenging slope. The architects renovated an old indoor swimming pool room, designed originally by Mogens Lassen and created a stunning function room for the clients. This opened out to a sunken terrace with built in seat walls and benches.

It was also featured on the front cover of Bo Bedre, the Jan 2016 issue, with a full colour article on the project.

Here is the article: BOB_160134-MogensLassen

Dronning Louisse vej 4 PLANTING plan 1-50 A3 copy Dronning Louisse vej 4 plant palette A3 copy

Holte Residential Garden

I recently finished a residential garden for a 70’s case study home in Holte. Below are the concept sheet I presented to the clients after initial meetings and site investigation and then the final planting plan and plants sheet.

Photos coming soon.


Norsk Alle 10 mood copy Norsk Alle 10 planting copy Norsk Alle 10 plants copy


Infringement: Into the wild competition

Here is my submission for a competition over at Innosite, called Into the wild. It focuses on how to link the large area of wild nature, called Amager Common, to the urban side of Ørestad.

Kay Sales Amager fælles

My text to accompany the map is as follows:


infringe: to encroach or trespass

“The character of a neighborhood has a significant affect on residents’ physical activity. People in communities with abundant greenspace generally enjoy better health.” *

This proposal suggests allowing the wild nature of Amager Common to encroach on the urban framework and at the same time, the urban environment to trespass a little on the wild nature by providing urban interventions, thereby easing the transition between the two spaces.

Retrofitting the utilitarian aspects of the public realm to introduce nature, through the use of green corridors and the rewilding of derelict and underused spaces, promotes connectivity, activity and a sense of community.

By making local community centres, such as the school, the kindergarten, the library and the care home the nucleii of the local community, one can then identify opportunities to link these to Amager Common through the use of green routes. A green route can lead elderly care home residents to the edge of the Common, where restrooms and seating areas are located. Another can lead to a nature-based play area, perfect for a visit by the kindergarten or a local family. Green routes will include signage and maps to inform about the types of plants and trees en route that also double as pollinator pathways, wildlife corridors and stormwater management systems.

Using urban interventions in and around the periphery of Amager Common, will encourage a broader spectrum of the community to make use of the space. Restroom facilities, seating areas and play opportunities will be a starting point to explore the Common further. Healthy, sustainable communities need active green space and a formal system of connectivity to large areas of wild nature. The green routes will improve the connectivity to Amager Common and this will also encourage freedom and activity, thereby improving the health and wellbeing of the community.

Benefits of the natural interventions/green routes: stormwater management through the use of bioswales and street trees, native wildflowers create pollinator pathways and wildlife corridors, soil and carbon sequestration, community and cross generational involvement, education.

Benefits of the urban interventions: encourage activity and play, facilities make it possible for all sectors of the community to connect to and enjoy the natural space, opportunities for digital play: GPS orientering, nature apps, nature-based digital learning, “third places” promote social equality, encourage gathering, are central to community vitality.

“Most needed are those “third places” which lend a public balance to the increased privatization of home life. Third places are nothing more than informal public gathering places. The phrase “third place” derives from considering our homes to be the “first” place in our lives and our work places the “second”.
Ray Oldenburg, sociologist.

* Maas, J., R.A. Verheij, P.P. Groenewegen, S. de Vries, and P. Spreeuwenberg. 2006. Green Space, Urbanity, and Health: How Strong is the Relation? Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 60:587–592.

Article for Danish magazine “Legepladsen”

I wrote an article for the magazine “Legepladsen” about a conference I attended in September on connecting children with nature. The magazine is published by the Danish Playground Society (Dansk Legeplads Selskab), a non-profit organization supporting play and play culture conditions.

Here is the danish version as will be seen in the magazine:


In English:

As a landscape architect interested in working on projects for children and having recently moved to Denmark, the Nordic Adventure conference based in Copenhagen sounded like the perfect place to meet like-minded people who also felt passionately about connecting children with nature.

After registering and meeting some of the other participants, there was plenty of time to wander around and enjoy the newly transformed Rådhus plads, a nature and adventure playground created by various organisations from around Denmark. It was delightful to see the broad age range of people playing, and many of us remarked on a group of pensioners who took over a display of traditional wooden games that they obviously remembered from their youth.

Day two started in Christiansborg Palace, with a morning comprised of sitting in the Fællessalen and listening to inspiring speeches by many passionate people.  It was also encouraging to see a strong political presence, as both the danish minister for the environment and the danish minister for children and education gave speeches. Ida Auken spoke of how important it was for children to develop a good sense of nature through education as they will be responsible for the future of the planet.

We were then given lunch packs and sent off on our various afternoon field trips. In Bispebjerg was a school garden that consisted of a community centre on 3 acres of land . On arrival we saw people in the kitchen cutting up beans and preparing vegetables to sell. We met a beekeeper on our tour and were struck by the size of the place. School children typically spent 3 hours each week planning their 1m by 3m plot. They can plant whatever they like, flowers and/or vegetables and then sow the seeds, harvest them and prepare the plot for winter.

The next morning the tour bus headed over the bridge towards Torup, a forest on the outskirts of Malmø where the staff from The School of Nature would be our guides and treat us like the children they take care of for the day. We started with a walk in the forest and were given exercises to help us really see the nature around us and then we headed over to the forest garden area where a fire pit was ready for us to use to prepare our own lunch. We successfully made flat bread, vegetable stir fry and caramelised apples, all over an open fire. Whether it was the long walk, the early start or just being outdoors, but the food tasted especially delicious.

Skabersjøskolan, a forest school for kids from ages 2.5 to 12 was our next stop. One example of the schools philosophy was the obvious freedom the children had in creating their own play areas, dotted around the edge of the property were examples of this in the form of little dens.

Our final project to visit was Videdalsskolan, a transformed schoolyard that was part of the  greening school grounds project we had heard about the previous day. We arrived just after school had finished, so were unable to see the children interacting with the space, but the potential for encouraging movement and free play was obvious. Rolling hills, trees and meadows clearly would inspire all age groups to play.

Just when we thought we were headed home, our tour guide decided we had time to visit Drømmarnas Hus, an old mansion in a disadvantaged area of Malmø, with a forest garden and outdoor kitchen. They are a non-profit artist led organisation and work with children and adults to encourage the growing, harvesting and preparing of vegetables. Home time and a head full of inspiration.

Our final day of the conference started with a morning of talks. Wanås Konst, a sculpture park just north of Malmø, stood out as a fantastic way of connecting children with nature through sculpture in a playful and creative way.

The plenary session was a great opportunity to bounce ideas around on how to best more forward in these troubled times. Our group agreed that to move forward it would take involvement on many levels, from the grassroots movement, through to the research studies that help prove the need for change and finally to connections in higher places, people such as Ida Auken, who are in a position to make the changes.

One final thought came from talking to a kindergarten teacher from the Faroe Islands, who told of how if she needs anything or wants to make changes she just calls the mayor and asks. If only it were that simple in other communities. Closer connectivity. Maybe that’s the way forward for us all?

Trørødskolen Masterplan

My concept master plan for my local school, one of the largest in the area. As a school with over a thousand students it was important to develop high performance, multi-functional spaces with thought towards the age of the children using the spaces.



Child-centred Neighbourhoods

My entry for a competition called High Line Green Infrastructure Ideas, held by the Landscape Institute, the Garden Museum and the Mayor of London.

As the text is difficult to read at this size, here is the project description.

“………..children are disappearing from the outdoors at a rate that would make the top of any conservationist’s list of endangered species if they were any other member of the animal kingdom…….” Tim Gill (2005)

By focusing on the most vulnerable citizens on our streets today, this proposal explores tackling the public realm on a local scale, using connectivity and the renaturing of the urban environment to be more conducive with the way children navigate the neighbourhood.

Child-centred neighbourhoods, as child-centred education suggests, put the needs of the children first, requiring them to be active, responsible participants in their own development. By encouraging children to choose and make local connections within the neighbourhood it also allows them more freedom to experience, explore and be creative.

The proposal suggests making the school, the park and the home the nuclei of the local community and identifying opportunities to link these to other community spaces. Using nature as the agency of change, one can retrofit the utilitarian aspects of the public realm to promote connectivity.

This would require a city wide investment in human/nature social capital through the renaturing of the urban environment, such as through the use of childlife corridors and the renaturing of derelict and underused spaces. As this will improve the freedom, connectivity and activity of the children, it follows that the health and wellbeing of the community will also improve.

Kay Sales Child-life Corridors

Children’s lives today

Tim Gill posted an idea on his blog as to what the full picture really was with regards to why children spend less time outdoors nowadays. Using that text, I developed an graphic to help illustrate how things have changed. Below is the text I wrote for the bottom of the graphic.

“According to a collection of 45 reports and research studies put together by Cheryl Charles and Richard Louv called “Children’s Nature Deficit: What We Know – and Don’t Know”  in 2009, children today spend increased time with media and multiple forms of media and their participation in outdoor activities has declined.
One report suggests that a generation of children is not only being raised indoors, but is being confined to even smaller spaces, as their use of space has changed from being primarily outdoors to indoors and supervised. In two decades children’s independent mobility has dramatically declined. This influences their outdoor activity and as 21% of children live within one mile of their school (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention 2006) many have very little chance to walk or cycle there by themselves, resulting in a nearly 25% drop over 30 years.

Parental constraints have always been present, but in this generation they seem to exert much greater control on children’s play. A study by Playday UK in 2008 reported that up to 50% of children between the ages of 7 and 12 were not allowed to ride a bike to their friends house, play in a local park or climb a tree without an adult present but 73% were allowed to surf the internet without an adult present.

As children spend more time indoors or in highly regulated activity, they spend less time just playing. The importance of play in children’s lives cannot be understated. Many studies have shown that play is a primary need for children and as Adrian Voce, former director of Play England, wrote in a recent article:

”…play deprivation can have profound implications for children’s health: obesity, attention deficit disorder, rickets and depression are just some of the conditions linked to the sedentary indoor lifestyles that are an inevitable consequence of children being denied access to outdoor play.”

Here’s some details from the infographic.

Children's lives today03

Children's lives today03

Children's lives today03

Children, nature and the city

This is a research proposal for an open topic PhD.

An excerpt:

“This research project explores tackling obesity, nature deficit disorder and play deprivation in urban children by using
nature as the agency of change; connecting children and nature through play in new public spaces inserted within the
living fabric of the city. These natural interventions will work in harmony with the existing green infrastructure and form a
living city plan, representing a system of nature and play initiatives that can adapt and change into the future. By
retrofitting the utilitarian aspects of the public realm to include nature and highlight the natural cycles, they will become
more conducive with the way children naturally play.
Using the schools and existing parks as the nucleii throughout the city, the project will identify places across the public
realm that can be used to link these gathering spaces together, thereby creating “wildlife corridors” for both children and

Children, Nature and the City

Trørød vs Frederiksberg

This is a personal project and a work in progress. I am interested in exploring and comparing the local residents access to nature in different municipalities on Sjealland.

I used the 5 minute walking circle as the average distance that a pedestrian is willing to walk before opting to drive  It is represented here by a radius measuring 0.4 km.

Frederiksberg, being a municipality in the metropolitan area of Copenhagen, has a relatively high amount of green space for a metropolitan area and yet there are still some areas within the district that are park/nature poor.

Trørød is a city located in Rudersdal in North Sjealand and about. 20 km north of Copenhagen. Almost every resident has some form of nature within walking distance of their homes.

Playground Ideas

Playground Ideas is a not-for-profit organization designing and building play spaces for disadvantaged children around the world. I volunteer my design skills, experience with master planning and draughtsmanship skills to develop play elements and playgrounds that will be built by local volunteers using only local resources.



The plan above is for a daycare and nursery school in Uganda.

Anna Bing Arnold Children’s Center


This is a master plan for the Anna Bing Arnold Children’s Center for the Cal State L.A. campus community. Working with Ronnie Siegel, the principal of Swire Siegel Landscape Architects, we looked at the outdoor spaces currently not being used in and around the center. By incorporating the current play spaces with new areas, we hoped to enrich the childrens outdoor play experiences, thereby encouraging activity and creativity.

Serendipity Preschool

Swire Siegel Landscape Architects was hired to prepare a site design for the entire property of Serendipity, a preschool in Monrovia, CA, with programs for infants through to 5 year olds. The existing large outdoor play spaces were poorly organized and the entry and parking lot was inefficient and unsafe.

The redesign captured additional play space by redesigning the parking lot and entry area. In addition the play areas were redesigned to both function better for outdoor class use, have better circulation and incorporate a much greater variety of natural play spaces and interactive play opportunities. The design utilized the many existing mature trees to provide the much needed shade and foster a connection to nature. Play elements were added to provide a more hands on manipulation with sand, water, wood, minerals, plants, animals and other natural materials.

Sales-Schmidt Residence

This garden, based in Pasadena, California, was flanked by other residences incorporating the typical Los Angeles front garden, which consisted of water thirsty lawn, roses and evergreen shrubs.

I chose to plant only low water, native species and found that soon after it had been established, there became a regular plethora of wildlife constantly visiting the garden. From small yellow finches eating the seeds from the native salvias and buckwheats, to ladybirds making sure there were no aphids living around the garden, there wasn’t a day that went by where we didn’t see some native bird, insect or local small mammal visiting our little paradise.

The water use was visibly reduced, due to the irrigation system only being used 4 times a year, once a month over the hottest summer months.

The walking areas used gravel and this led to many seedlings springing up from the native plants. Many were dug up and potted up to be used in other areas of the garden or swapped with fellow native plant enthusiasts.

Many of the plants were sourced from the following plant nurseries:

El Nativo Growers

San Marcos Growers

Hamm-Alvarez Residence


The clients required a new planting design in keeping with the water restrictions California is now facing. The existing lawn area was removed and a plant palette consisting of low water native and mediterranean species was used incorporating many of the cacti the clients had collected over the years. An existing orchard was under planted with native meadow plants (plant photos below), new seating areas were developed (above left photo) and a native willow hut was installed as a playhouse for their daughter.


Pitelka Residence

This residential project had a fairly large property and the clients were keen to incorporate a California native and low water plant palette, due to the water shortage this region faces over the coming years. As their residence is small, it was important to increase the usability of the outdoor spaces by adding natural play spaces for their children, a vegetable garden and larger patio areas for socialising. It was completed in Jan 2010 and I supervised the project from concept design through to construction observation.

Alhambra Unified School District: Elementary School Master Plans

In 2008 a large school district in Los Angeles, the Alhambra Unified School District (AUSD), passed a bond measure for $50 million to modernize and update each of the 13 Elementary Schools campuses.

Many of the public schools in Los Angeles have very poor outdoor facilities and these were no exception. Each school had asphalt as far as the eye could see and no shade. The lack of nature and shade discouraged children from being active and creative outside. Yet the excellent Southern California weather and the large outdoor spaces meant that there were untapped opportunities for encouraging all types of children to connect with natural play spaces and explore interactive play opportunities.

Swire Siegel Landscape Architects developed and designed master plans for nine of the campuses. The mission statement for the master plans became: “For a diverse group of children with varying interests, designs that promote a variety of experiences in a safe environment will increase learning and decrease boredom and conflict.”

The project involved extensive meetings to gather input from the stakeholders including students, parents, teachers, maintenance employees, and the administration.  Designs and detailed cost estimates were prepared.  Through further meetings alternative designs were evaluated with their costs before they were finalized.

I assisted at many of the meetings and collaborated with the principal on all the designs. I drew up the autocad plans and prepared the color renderings and cost estimates.

Baldwin School (above) is a typical example of the size and facilities needed for such a large school community. It has up to a 1,000 children from the ages of 5 to 11 attending.

Walden School

Walden School is a private Elementary School in Pasadena with play yards focused on promoting creativity, curiosity, educational opportunities as well as bonding and learning from nature. Swire Siegel Landscape Architects was hired to improve their south yard by creating more play opportunities and a wider variety of activities into the restricted space.

Walden photos-01 copy

I worked with Ronnie Siegel to design unique and hands on play areas. A water channel (bottom image) and magnetic water wall (above) encourage play and experimentation with natural materials. A raised deck with log seating in a grove of existing eucalpytus trees (below) has multiple uses as a stage, a social space, a protected building block area or a quiet reading space. Built storage units facilitate the transition of uses. A slate chalk wall encourages the creative potential for outdoor art.

Walden photos-02 copy

Walden photos-03 copy

Polytechnic School

Polytechnic School is a private school in Pasadena, with enrollment from Kindergarten through to 12th grade. The $66 million project on the north Elementary School campus called for a subterranean parking garage, new buildings on top of the garage and all new outdoor spaces with a budget of about $2 million. HMC Architects designed buildings in keeping with the existing Myron Hunt architectural gems and Swire Siegel Landscape Architects was charged with designing new play and gathering spaces for the Elementary School.

I joined Swire Siegel at the beginning of the concept design phase of this project and was able to assist the principal, Ronnie Siegel, with completing the design and continuing through schematic plans to full construction documents. I worked extensively on the final construction documents. The plans have been approved by the City of Pasadena and construction is 50% complete at this time. The project is going for Gold LEED certification.


Masters Thesis: a new playground?

The increase in childhood obesity and the lack of nature and opportunities for unstructured outdoor play in the urban environment has meant that children today lead very different lives than children two generations ago. Currently there are limited opportunities for children to be active in cities in comparison to the suburbs and rural areas.

My design-based thesis called “A new playground?” focused on encouraging children to get outside and find ways to connect them with nature through play. I chose a challenging, urban, high density area of Los Angeles where there were no parks within walking distance and developed design solutions for interstitial spaces within the framework of the neighbourhood, using the “public domain”.

Here is an excerpt from my final thesis book.

“Outdoor, unstructured play is integral to developing healthy, creative and independent children. Direct experience of the natural world is crucial to healthy development,learning and education.

Re-designing the utilitarian aspects of the street to be more harmonious with natural cycles, would create an environment which would be more conducive to the way children naturally play, thereby encouraging social interaction, independence and creativity.”