Monday, 13 April 2015

Cuthill Park, a park for the entire community - Jupiter Play

A guest blog post by Jupiter Play

Site: Prestongrange Road, Prestonpans (Edinburgh)
Client: East Lothian Council
Budget: £77,000
Age range: from toddlers to teenagers


What was the customer looking for?
East Lothian Council put a tender out for a play area in Prestonpans. They were looking for a playground made with natural components, with separate play zones for toddlers, older children, seating, picnic areas and space for community events. We decided to go for it as we were confident that our timber range (supplied by FHS Holtztechnik) would perfectly suit the brief of the project.

Did the customer have a specific idea about materials?
Yes, the client was looking for Robinia timber to achieve a par with a natural feel that blends well with the natural features of the site and robust enough to withstand the challenges associated with a secluded sight with no informal supervision from overlooking houses and neighbours. The client asked for wood chip for the safety surface, which we totally agreed with as we think it is cost effective and complements the Robinia wood very well.

Were there any particularities with the location?
Indeed! The site was quite challenging as there was a mixture of ground conditions to take into account. There were spaces remaining after the removal of previous playground equipment that were filled with spoil. A large expanse of tarmac had to be retained and incorporated into the design. The remainder of the site had very undulating grass areas surrounded by sloping hills lined with trees.

Were there any community interests you had to consider?
Certainly! One of the key aspects of this project was that there were two stakeholders involved: our client (East Lothian Council) and the community group (Friends of Cuthill Park), both with very specific ideas of the park they wanted for the neighbourhood. An example of this was the teen shelter. The Community group wanted a shelter where teenagers would have a space to gather and shelter from the rain. However, the local authority didn’t see this as a good idea as they were concerned about possible anti-social behaviour. We highlighted to the community group the potential hazards of a youth shelter and introduced them other alternatives as carefully sited seating which they were happy with. We also included some very popular pieces of equipment such as the pendulum swing, always a star attraction.


How did you overcome the challenge with the ground?
We don’t like destroying the beautiful landscape of the sites and, if possible, we try to respect that as much as we can. On this occasion we utilised the remaining grass areas to install our equipment for the older age group. This was seen as a good solution by our client, who really liked the idea of respecting the natural contours of the landscape. Also some excavation on the ground was required to accommodate the woodchip safer surfacing to the correct depth.

How was the equipment used to suit this project?
Within our timber range we chose the equipment that best followed the natural feel of the landscape. We went for units like the Charles Dickens, which incorporates ropes and fixed platforms, giving children different play experiences as well as being able to follow the existing contours of the area.

What do you like the most about this play design?
We’re delighted to see that once again our timber range – FHS Holtztechnik- complements the natural surroundings. It also makes us proud to carry out projects that respect and enhance the natural environment as much as possible.


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What do you think children will enjoy the most of this play area?
The best thing about this park is that it’s not only for children, it’s for the whole family and community! Apart from the diverse selection of equipment that children have to play with, there are also picnic benches and plenty of space for adults to sit and relax, making the perfect space for a family day out. There is also plenty space for community events to take place alongside the play area.

Is the customer happy with the result? What are their comments?
Carol Sneddon and Jan Barker, from the Friends of Cuthill community group say:
We are really happy with the way Jupiter Play interpreted our brief and carried out the installation. The play equipment was installed quickly and we were pleased with the solutions that Jupiter Play came up with. It’s lovely to see families driving from all over Prestonpans to bring their children, and the ones living closest have been going daily over the Easter holidays. We would definitely recommend Jupiter Play to other community groups”. 

The community group Twitter page comments read:
loving the new park so does my niece. Great to see so many people using it”, 
A park alive with children and parents 6:45 on spring evening” 
 “FINISHED!  Check out your GORGEOUS new play park”.

All this really makes every second of our work worth it.

(original blog post can be seen here)

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