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Barshaw Park play area, Renfrewshire, 10.10.17

An inspired creative design proposal won Russell Play the tender to design a new play area in Barshaw Public Park in Renfrewshire. The many bespoke timber play units that make up the play area provide an impressive range of play activities which includes a sensory play area placed within it. The tall play castle centre piece acts both as a draw for children to come and play as well as an impressive visual focus for passing park visitors.

Boy sliding down slide of timber playhouse at Barshaw Park.


An inspired addition to a popular park
Renfrewshire Council, planned to invest in upgrading two of its core parks, one of them being Barshaw Park, over two developmental phases. The second phase would specifically involve the building of new play areas in those parks. The first phase of upgrades involved enhancing the more rudimentary aspects of the parks such as paths and drainage.

Paisley Burgh Council acquired the 55 acre green space and opened it for public use in 1912. Since then it has developed a wide variety of facilities to cater for a whole range of interests and age groups. As well as the play areas it has grass and wooded areas with benches and picnic tables, a café, pond, walled garden, model railway and a good network of paths for walkers, joggers and cyclists.

The client stipulated that the material had to be Robinia timber for the inherent style and warmth it brings. They envisaged this would be apt for the wooded corner where the play area was to be set. The design was to cater for different age groups up to teens and have a lot of play value in its ensemble of units. Furthermore it should be inclusive so children with different abilities could join in with the fun.


Timber playhouse and rope net climber at Barshaw Park play area.
Children playing on timber rope net climber.


Bespoke timber play equipment
Russell Play used its versatile Spielart timber range in conceiving the design that won the tender. Its popularity has very much to do with its natural look, but the fact that it is completely bespoke is also very attractive. The flexibility in its structure means that it can be built to fit any terrain, carved to any theme and with a large choice of colours it can give each park a play area with its own unique look. In the case of Barshaw a palette of mainly natural wood was chosen with deep green and white selected highlights, making the units a stylish addition to the historic park.

The high quality materials and finish of the Spielart products sit well in the newly renovated and significant community park. The castle play unit with its climbing ramp access and a stainless steel slide is accompanied by a variety of diverse activity units all in matching colours and style. These include a rope net climber, large climbing wall, rope end swing, six seat tyre swing, scramble net, seesaw, basket swing and a range of trail items including balance beams and stepping posts. The soft wood chip adds an ideal natural choice for the play area surface.


Children playing on timber see saw with tyre swing in background.

Girl playing on timber play house.


Children having fun in sensory play area with mirror play panel.

'Girl playing with Babel drum in the sensory play area.

Sensory play area for sight, sound and touch
Although much of the play equipment in the dynamic play area is inclusive for children of different abilities, a separate fenced sensory play area has been created within it to add something specifically for children with sense impairments. It contains a collection of play items that have an emphasis on sensory experiences like sight, sound and touch.

Three percussion items consisting of four giant tubular chimes, a steel babel drum and a box drum give an interesting and varied range of sound experiences. There are also two play panels, one for visual stimulation and the other for tactile play. The visual panel has a curved mirror that depending on how close you stand reflects a different distorted reflection. The touch panel has carved elements which are specifically designed to be experienced by touch. The play area has a woodland theme with carved images of animals and woodland objects like acorns and trees to identify. The play area has a great appeal and has proven to be very popular with all children.

"I'm delighted that the new play equipment is now open as a further enhancement to the facilities available in Barshaw Park. The investment will see families able to enjoy a safe, fun and inviting environment that they can bring their children to for years to come.
We are committed to providing the best facilities we can for our communities and the further enhancements to Barshaw will ensure that they provide a fantastic experience for every visitor."

Cathy McEwan, Convenor for Environment & Communities




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Download the Barshaw Park play area, Renfrewshire case study as pdf.


Product range featured in this project

Spielart - timber play.


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