In April 2008, The Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) awarded Cambridgeshire a capital fund of £800,000 to build an adventure play area at a designated site. The play space had to encourage children from all ages and abilities to play together in a unique and innovative environment.
Cambridgeshire County Council wanted an adventure playground that responded to community requirements, involving local children and residents in various stages of the design and build process. It was vital that children be supported during the decision making process, helping them develop analytical and evaluation skills.
Sutcliffe Play worked with the local community and council to ensure they delivered a dynamic playground that meets their needs. This involved a lengthy consultation process including workshops within schools, community panels, on-site events and creating a website. The consultation process proved invaluable and influenced the design of the new adventure playground, making it a true community project.
The play area had to be environmentally sustainable, incorporating natural features, landscaping and purpose built equipment. Particular attention had to be given to disadvantaged and vulnerable children who would not normally access play facilities.
Using unique design features and bespoke play elements, developed by Sutcliffe Play’s in-house landscape architect, the play area site on The Spinney, Wisbech, was designed to provide a completely individual play area to service the needs of the local community.
Features incorporated into the design included bespoke, life size timber barges for facilitating indoor activities such as a playroom, hygiene room, toilets and an office.
A unique self build system allows children to recreate their own structures using reinforced mesh panels, velcro fastenings, ropes and caribinas. This dynamic and unique self build system encourages children to explore, create and interact – essential elements of adventure playgrounds.
Children can create and build their own structures on a daily basis, every day bringing a new opportunity to change and transform their play environment. Whether a den for two, a giant spider’s web or tree world city, the only limit is a child’s imagination.
A ‘grow your own’ area of raised beds was included to encourage older community members to get involved teaching the younger generation how to plant and grow produce. As the site was fairly flat the design also included landscaping with stone filled gabions to create different levels, a beachscape, ampitheatre, ravine swing, racing cableway, meeting and performance spaces. The consultation process proved invaluable in influencing the design of the playground and made it a true community project.
Rachel Marshall, Project Manager at Cambridgeshire County Council comments: “The Wisbech Adventure Playground is a very popular place. Children and young people love the challenge and the wide variety of exciting play opportunities. It is a very creative and innovative design that caters for a wide range of ages and abilities.”