Eirias Park – Colwyn Bay
The former site of a once popular attraction, Dinosaur World at Parc Eirias, Colwyn Bay has been saved from extinction, with the awarding of an £90,000 contract to Sheffield based Playgarden.
The Eirias Park site was taken over in 2009 by Conwy County Borough Council, Education Services Department to develop an ambitious project that will create an outdoor learning centre to be used by local schools, pre-schools and parent groups. The site will have an educational focus for children, staff and families to explore the natural environment through hands-on experiences. The building will be a training base for both pre-school and school staff in Conwy whilst the outdoor area will give children the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate nature on their doorstep.
Playgarden were selected for their innovative design ideas and their understanding of play and learning in the outdoor environment. Working with the client Playgarden developed an imaginative playspace design, offering a multi-sensory approach that wherever possible incorporates grass, wood, stone, sand, water, vegetation and other natural materials.
The tailor made environment was designed to help children develop their confidence in playing and exploring the outdoors, discovering nature, the different seasons and all weather conditions.
The space presents opportunities for running, hiding and exploring, children can be with their friends enabling many social interactions and the development of social skills. Spaces have been designed to offer interaction, learning and fun with the surrounding environment, this incorporates the manipulation of water, sand and earth, so that children get to enjoy the freedom to be messy!
Within this large playspace there are also smaller more intimate ‘special’ spaces to be discovered, allowing children to sit, think and be imaginative, these include the sensory planting area and underground cave.
• This natural, ever changing landscape design has led to the playspace becoming a favourite for Forest School training utilising the space to experience forest life, gathering, exploring and cooking.
• Encompassing a pebbled area and a water pump, the water play area is a very popular feature. Older toddlers and children are able to access the pump, causing the water to flow, but younger children do not feel excluded as they are able to crawl into the sandpit and play with the water as it follows its natural course.
• The sensory space has become a favourite for mums and babies, who can gather whilst older children play around the space. It affords a good vantage of the site, has natural shade from the trees and is stimulating for babies.
• The cave area is popular for all aspects of role play, serving as a jail, a den, a monster’s lair or a home, depending on the imagination of the child within.
• The design omitted picnic benches, which has led to the parks natural features, such as boulders and logs being used for seating and resting. Similarly the playspace does not include any litterbins, the community are being very respectful of the space by taking their litter home with them.
• Perhaps the best evidence of the success of the playspace is that once children have attended the playspace as part of a play group they are motivating their parents to return with them at a later point. As the centre is part of a public park the space is accessible to all outside of school hours. This has made the Centre a real asset, not just for specific groups but for the entire community.
Equipment: Playground Pump, Water Channel, Sand Crane, Mud Table
Landscaping: Pebble stream, Boulders, Mounds, Planting, Grass, Willow Arch, Stile, Kissing Gate, Bench, Wildlife Pond, Rockery, Log Wall, Sleeper Bridge, Cave, Ampitheatre
What the client said…
“We are really excited about the whole project, we have set out to create a play and learning landscape that the whole community can enjoy for years to come”