Davies White Landscape Architects gained national recognition for their Crow Wood Playscape in Cheshire when they won a Landscape Institute Design Award earlier this year. The project sits in the historic National Trust woodland estate at Lyme Park in Cheshire and is now open all year round.
Their Playscape design approach is an innovative way to encourage children to create their own play and shape it within and around the natural landscape. Crow Wood Playscape features a bespoke tree house, interconnecting timber and rope walkways, giant willow eggs, two tunnels, a wide slide and huge badger set.
Crow Wood Playscape offers limitless scope for imaginations to run wild, and provides a place for children to explore, discover and be challenged, as Landscape Architect Adam White, explains, “The idea behind the project was to provide a natural space which could become a play area with a difference. These days, many children simply don’t have enough access to the outdoors and environment around us -which is a basic part of growing up. Crow Wood Playscape is somewhere where children can simply play, use their imaginations creatively, take acceptable levels of risk, challenge one another, and, most of all, have a really enjoyable time.
David Morgan, National Trust Estate Manager, added “In the first year, visitor numbers to Lyme Park rose by 25% and we put a large proportion of this this down to the attraction of the Crow Wood Playscape, as it is attracting more families to enjoy the play area and the variety of other experiences that Lyme Park has to offer. Our gift shop now even stocks a range of Crow Wood play products!”
Thanks to community engagement led by environmental charity Groundwork Cheshire and a £250,000 grant from WREN construction of the Playscape began in spring 2010. From then on, visitors to Lyme Park could only wonder at the hive of activity taking place in this usually quiet part of the estate as the Playscape gradually took shape.
Constructing the groundbreaking design was not without its own memorable moments, as Adam White, recalls, “At one point we had to call on the services of a Sikorsky helicopter which normally flies between Lands End and the Scilly Isles. The helicopter was the only way we could transport our four twelve metre high pyramid timber towers into position. Their size, weight, and where they needed to be on the hillside made it impossible to use anything else. Luckily everything went according to plan and the action was caught on film which features on our new website”
Peter Cox, managing director of WREN, said he was extremely impressed with the project, “WREN is committed to funding projects that make a real difference to local communities, children and families. We were delighted to support the National Trust, Groundwork and Davies White Landscape Architects, who together made this exciting project happen”.
IMAGES: Courtesy of Davies White Landscape Architects