Wakehurst Place is a West Sussex gem that regularly brings hordes of families and tourists to come and enjoy its beautiful surroundings. The county estate is owned by the National Trust and managed by the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew. Their internationally renowned botanical research centre and educational institution have recently opened a new non-slip playground for children, and it’s one of the first of its kind. The facility wanted to attract even more families to the site by creating a playground for children that would be safe and robust enough for wear and tear, with a design that complimented its natural woodland environment.
It was decided that JB CitiDeck would be the perfect material. The timber deck boards are extremely durable, with an external surface that has the ability to effectively minimise any risk of slipping, even in wet weather conditions. The material was also seen as ideal because it’s easy to clean and is well-suited for heavy usage by lots of children. Developers knew that JB CitiDeck would be a good material to work with. It can be easily cut into rounded edges to wrap around the shape of trees and create overhang structures for children’s play areas.
Iain Parkinson, who is the Conservation and Woodlands Manager at Kew, was pleased with the decision to go with the timber decking, and commented that “Contractor Cedarwood Joinery fitted the product quickly and easily and we were very happy with the service and help we received from Marley Eternit, which ensured the play area was completed to schedule”.
He talked about the importance of creating a play area that’s not only safe for children to use, but is also durable and has the ability to weather well. He purposely chose wood that would match with the natural surroundings and bring out the beauty of the woodland. The playground opened May 2016, just as full natural splendour the summer months was beginning to emerge. Parkinson commented on how the play area complimented its surroundings straight away and said of the new timber decking that “the wood turns a lovely yellow colour in the sunshine, blending in with the oak trees”.
Matching playgrounds with their natural surroundings is not a new idea, but it’s a great way for children to experience the outside world as they enjoy the touch and feel of natural elements. Environments such as the forest can really help to stimulate youngsters’ imaginations, and play spaces that embrace this could turn in to a fairy garden, a bear cave, a pirate ship or a wild animal safari for the children using them.
JB CitiDeck was originally developed for use in the Olympic Park, where safety, inclusivity and accessibility were all major factors to be considered by the organisers of London 2012. The material has since been used for many urban applications and public spaces including schools, hospitals, housing developments and restaurants. We hope in future that more nature reserves and public spaces will follow the example of Kew Gardens and create safe spaces for children to play as they admire the beauty of nature. Here at Garden Play we have a variety of surfacing built for safe play.