National Trust The Vyne, Hampshire

We were invited by the National Trust to design and build an interactive play space within a forgotten part of the gardens at The Vyne, near Basingstoke.

The centrepiece of the garden is a large mound incorporating a variety of playful features to explore and discover. Two hobbit-holes connect through the mounds and include hidden sound tubes to enable communication through the ground.

A large slide and a cascade of red limestone boulders allow for different ways of traversing the embankments.

Connected to the mound by a sturdy bridge is a wooden lookout, featuring a fireman’s pole and a reticulated conical roof reminiscent of an ancient hill-fort or medieval dwelling. This structure is built from larch grown in The Vyne’s own woodland, keeping with our policy of using local or recycled timber wherever possible. We also believe in the importance of using a range of materials in a play space to create a rich and varied environment. Within this play space gravel, sand and water have been incorporated to encourage maximum interaction.

A winding stream allows children to control the water’s flow and to alter its course by building gravel dams.

Adjacent to the play elements, a large covered seating area was incorporated within the old apple orchard, providing a sheltered picnic area and ensuring the new development attracted a wider audience.