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Tadburn Meadows, Test Valley

Client: Test Valley Borough Council

Cost: £22,611

Date: 01/01/2007

Genre: Landscape, Youth

Breaking new ground with natural play spaces

Test Valley Borough Council wanted to improve the existing wooden play facilities which had rotted and suffered from vandalism at the 12-acre nature reserve. After consultations with local residents and MPs it was decided that wood was not sufficiently resilient, and that metal equipment would not be in keeping with the sensitivities of an attractive lakeside site combining ancient woodland and open grassland, and forming the habitat for a wide variety of wildlife including frogs, water voles, bats, birds, butterflies and moths. A natural play space needed to be created.

It was decided to steer clear of traditional metal or wooden play equipment in favour of a more innovative and interactive approach to play and education. Stone was eventually chosen as the medium for a series of play sculptures, which also have educational benefits for many subjects including mathematics, biology, geology and geography.

The series of six sculptures at the Tadburn Meadows Nature Reserve, in Romsey, combine recreation with education, and emphasise the concept of ‘natural play’. They were designed by Patrick Martin, Sales and Landscape Designer at Sutcliffe Play, based on ideas conceived by Paul Casey, of Playground Services.

Playground Equipment:

The sculptures include a human sundial, with stones arranged so that the children can stand in the middle and become part of the sundial as their shadow falls to tell the time! There is also a key stone bridge to demonstrate the strength of an arch. The other items are a compass, orientated towards north, and comprising stones that can be used as either stepping stones or as seats; a picnic table and bench; and pyramid steps with a slide.

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