A Playpark for Co. Wicklow

landscape design plan for play park, wicklow, architecture, playground, garden

The playpark to be located near Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow is designed to create a multifaceted experience for children in the age range 1-15.  The layout, elements and features of the design will provoke and stimulate the senses: sight, smell, sound, touch and taste and provide atmospheres of happiness, excitement and calmness for the soul.

 Our design inspiration comes from a number of sources with an emphasis on Irish history, landscapes and experience.  For Irish mythology and legend, we will refer to such stories as Oisin, Fionn Mac Cumhaill and the Children of Lir, and Irish fairies.  We have used Irish symbols, such as, the shamrock and the St. Brigids Cross for the design and other symbols and shapes, such as, the harp and Celtic weaves could be used in the detailed design.  With an emphasis on nature and the landscape the design will reference rugged Irish landscapes, mountains, woodlands and streams and landscape features, such as, Dolmens, mounds, stone walls and hedgerows.  This provides tremendous opportunities to create features that the children can interact with. More playfully, we have designed part of the site using the plan of the hundred acre wood as featured in “The adventures of Winnie the Pooh”.

The site includes includes three play areas, amongst the other features, and these have been placed for ease of access for each age group:

  • A toddlers playground
  • A play area for 4-9 year olds themed around the Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood
  • An adventure play area for approximately 9-14 year olds further afield

However, it is not intended that these areas are exclusive or defined by rigid boundaries, but that all the children may use all the areas if they so wish.  However, there will be an emphasis on a particular age group in each zone and so the children will naturally migrate to the parts of the site that suit them best.  Certain features, as given below, will, of course, be universally used:

  • A hill with a spiralling pathway to the top that creates a vantage point and is also an object to climb and perhaps to toboggan down in the winter.
  • Two connected ponds that are fed from on-site water collection from originating in the car park area. This provides opportunities to encourage wildlife in to the site and for activities such as pond-dipping. It is also intended that the playgrounds will have their own water features to allow the children to feel, experiment and splash with water and the sensory garden and growing areas will by necessity have their own water supply.
  • Pathways of differing surfaces and textures that provides access and journeys around the site.  We have also included a labyrinth in the design that we previoiusly used in Barrettstown, which is to universal access standards.
  • There will be plenty of space for running, chasing and hiding games and climbing of all types e.g. logs for toddlers and a specific climbing wall in the adventure playground.
  • Aural stimulation will be provided by incorporating play equipment that provides sound in both obvious and unusual ways.  Chimes, drums, clangers, gongs and pipes can be included and for example paving squares that make a sound if you jump on them.  The design can be good for children with sensory impairments as well as those who just like to make as much noise as they can!
  • We will create areas for inquisitive exploration and places where children can take refuge and hideaway.  There will be seats, bridges and tunnels, sunken areas and mounds.  The site will be divided in to spaces with natural vegetation and contouring and each will have its own ambience whilst remaining connected to a unified whole.
  • The site will encourage a huge amount of interaction with nature throughout the site through the use of native and wild plants and creating habitat structure.  This will naturally encourage wildlife to use the site include birds, butterflies and insects and wild animals.  The site will include a range of habitats including woodland (different types, such as coppice), wildflower meadow, waterside and hedgerow.
  • A specific sensory garden is to be included that is a haven, full of different sights, sounds and smells where you can sit and watch the world go by amid the scented flowers, listen to the wind chimes, or play with interactive tactile elements.  It is intended that this areas is maintained by the children along with the growing area that will include fruit, vegetable and herb growing outdoors and also a polytunnel for sensitive crops and sheltering-in on a cold day!
  • Not shown on the plan at this level of detail, it is also our intention to include a huge sand pit and a tree house.  All the play equipment will be made, where possible, using locally sourced materials and if off the shelf equipment is to be used it will be naturally made and from a sustainable source.
  • Finally, we have included an Irish Crannog on the lake.  This is an ancient Irish dwelling or fort built on an artificial island in a lake or marsh and is made from wattle and daub (sticks and mud).  It would be the intention that this will have a building that can be used for specialist learning or arts and crafts separate to the main entrance building and café.

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