View a slideshow covering a selection of our work on natural play spaces.
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With plenty of interest in natural play and natural play spaces, we have made a downloadable document on “What is a natural Play Space?” to go with the “Natural green Play Spaces" and "Creative Play Areas” pdf made at the beginning of last year. These are best seen in the light of our other download pdf docs on “Tree Planting....” and “Living landscapes.." , all can be found on the downloads page or click 'downloads' in the menu.
We spent January, February and some of March 2009 in Stourport-on-Severn creating a natural play area and community open landscape with standing stones, trees and other features. We have included this here as an example of a natural play area within a community open landscape.
This natural play space was designed by green in partnership with Wyre Forest District Council and Wyre Forest Community Housing.
The emphasis was on ‘natural’ and ‘play’...and was part of the national lottery awards based on natural play areas. The natural play space and landscape features a number of distinct zones:
In January 2009 we began work on the natural play area – beginning with the feature known as The Bridges. This was planned last year (see drawing) for the 6-12 year olds, and featured some small forts on top of a rolling series of grassy mounds connected by 4 long bridges...and as this piece came together, it was clear that we had created something very popular. Before any grass was established it soon became a favourite with the local kids who would spend much time on the mounds and running across the bridges, chasing and playing tag.
This is the foundation of natural play – in fact most steel and timber play towers are trying to recreate this type of play piece. See the photo’s to understand the sense of fun and the numbers of children that can use ‘The Bridges’ at the same time.
As well as the natural play area, at the end of January, we managed to get a 30 ton crane in to the middle of a wet field to install the first four of a series of megalithic stones. Guy worked closely with Paul Allen on choosing stones and enthusing the local children. Paul and Guy’s natural love of the ancient megalithic landscape of the British Isles is apparent in the harmonious ambiance that this grouping of stones adds to Redstone Marsh. The megaliths also became popular with some of the teenagers who felt their natural play space had been extended to rock climbing!
Paul Adams Groom and Laura James worked on the art panels and in co-operation with the local youth club and St. Barts School. These panels feature in the toddlers area of the natural play space along with some huge logs for climbing; some oak cubes for stepping on; some rocks and boulders; three tepees; swings and seats for adults were also included in this part of the natural play area as was an extensive programme of planting overall.
Some of this has been susceptible to damage and, alas, theft....but these things happen. However, about 50 % has survived and next year, more planting needs to take place – the key to natural play is the backdrop of trees and other plants. The large climbing frame is a piece by German company Richter which was installed by Timber Play.
The teenage shelter and seating area was planned on top of an old skate board ramp foundation. We cut up the platform to make a more interesting shape and made a popular space for the local teens to congregate in.
In all, the natural play space project was a great learning experience for us and one that adds much to the community open space here, just above the mighty River Severn. It is being used by the National Lottery as an example of Best Practice, and we will re-visit the area to report on the progress and evolvement of this natural play area.