California Country Park is owned by Wokingham Borough Council and over the past year facilities have been improved with a new outdoor cafe seating area, toilet block and additional car parking spaces. Following a tender process we were awarded the contract to design and build a destination play area to attract residents across the borough to visit the park. The play equipment ranges in challenge and height allowing different ages to play alongside each other. It was also important to consider the high visitor numbers on hot days using the paddling pool and needing space to spread out on the grass with picnic blankets.
As much as possible we have used natural elements such as logs, boulders, water, trees and timber to create a space that connects children to nature and provide a sense of well being. This is a cohesive design that considers the parents and carers experience as well as the children. By improving the overall visitor experience the new play space will increase repeat visits, dwell time and revenue for the cafe and car park.
The Wild Woods – This is a new active, challenging play space set in the shade of the tall pines designed to test the physical ability of 8 – 16 year olds. We have designed three Tree Houses to wrap around and enhance the height of the existing pine trees and create key views from the cafe and picnic area. Surrounding the Tree Houses in the woodland is a rope and pole course, zip wire at the back.
The Sensory Garden – We have designed this area to enable creative and imaginative natural play for both younger children aged 2 – 8 years and disabled children and adults. It is a completely inclusive space where children can investigate and discover their world through creative play or test their physical abilities in more active play.
Water Play – We wanted to make water an important element of the space and designed it to be inclusive, accessible and all weather which will attract families even on wet days. A shallow cobble stream set into the wet pour surface contains the water and prevents it from running out into the surrounding land. The cobble rill is perfect for bare foot and welly water play, small fixed boulders create diversions to the flow, for wheelchair access we have included a timber bridge to the central island.