Forestry Commission Alice Holt, Hampshire

The Centenary Trees tell the story of Forestry Commission trees on their journey from the woods being felling, processing and production of timber for construction. The large scale play structures have been installed to celebrate 100 years since Forestry England was first created to restore the country’s forests after the First World War and celebrate the special habitat Alice Holt provides for people and wildlife.


To fulfil the brief of providing climbing/scrambling and movement with the age group 1-8 years in mind, we have included several climbing opportunities with different levels of challenge and function within the design. These include the internal platform staircase of the larger tree that allows the children (and adults) to spiral up to the deck above, ladders that appear to be leant against the scaffolding (and can be used to race each other up), a scramble net linking the lower deck and felled trunk, a notched log leading to the slide and climbing holds to traverse or climb up the felled trunk. A fireman’s pole leads off the lower deck, at a height to allow adults to assist younger children when necessary. The many routes up and down, along with size and different levels of the structure allow for a large number of children to access the structure at one time.

The two raised decks at different heights allow the children to have the feeling of being up high and provide many role play opportunities. The decks are linked by a V-bridge, which is a relatively low challenge yet exciting element as it has open sides and spans 3m between the decks. The highest deck is 1.8m from the ground, high enough to create a sense of adventure and risk for older children within the suggested age range, but low enough for adults to reach if necessary. The lower deck at 1.5m provides the same qualities as the higher deck for younger children, also giving them something to aspire to (the higher deck) on repeat visits as they get older. All of the structure is accessible by adults allowing them to interact and assist their children.

Den spaces have been created within the The Centenary Trees at both ground and deck levels, which provide a range of play and social functions for different ages and abilities. The ground level dens and felled hollowed trunk provides opportunities of exploration for younger children who may not want to get up high, but can hide and role play in the dens, crawl through the felled trunk, challenge themselves with the climbing holds and be assisted up the notched log to reach the slide.