Oaklands Heritage Park, Chelmsford
Russell Play won the tender by Chelmsford City Council to design two brand new play areas in the Oaklands Heritage Park in Chelmsford. One was for infants, catering primarily for children up to 6 years old and the other was for a neighbourhood play area for children aged between 3 to 14 years.
An important part of Russell Play successfully fulfilling the tender brief was that the designs and colour schemes should blend in with the already existing Chelmsford & Essex Regiment Museums nearby. More specifically was the request to actually incorporate some of the features of the museum buildings and their exhibits into the playground design itself. Chelmsford City Council chose Russell Play as they felt they had given the best response to these requests in their brief. They delivered a completely different play area from anything Chelmsford had anywhere else.
Chelmsford City Council had undertaken extensive public consultation on both play areas before formulating a brief to be put to tender. Their consultation was fruitful and generated a wish list of specific kinds of outdoor play equipment. The local residents, including the children themselves, voted for what they wanted to see form part of the new playgrounds.
In the infant playground the consultation results requested that there was to be a minimum of three individual role play items within a landscape setting and at least two sensory educational items. Also requested was a multiplay unit to include a combination of items including: a variety of slides, chain and net bridges and climbing elements like nets and logs. There was also to be at least two towers or tree house buildings in the style of the Essex Regiment museum towers. In addition to that, two spring items, a seesaw and one cradle swing.
In response to this Russell Play created a timber bespoke solution using Spielart. This was ideal for incorporating the museum towers into the design. The flexibility of the Spielart product allowed not only the towers to be represented in the concept but also some of the exhibits including a large brown bear.
The neighbourhood playground had its own requirements also generated from the public consultation results. These were one large multiplay unit, balancing and agility equipment, two swings, one rotary item and one rocking item.
The creative solution Russell Play gave to this was to use the versatile and natural looking Greenville range from Berliner Seilfabrik. The Greenville system is ideal for attaching different kinds of slides and climbers to a central unit. Also with its bamboo wood panels it gives a natural feel that blended into the leafy Oaklands Park surroundings perfectly as requested by Chelmsford council in their brief.
Craig Brewster, the Play Area Supervisor, talks of working with Russell Play and the resultant play areas at Oaklands:
‘Chelmsford City Council is completely indebted to Russell Play for the fantastic work they did helping us deliver on our promise to the community of two new play areas in Oaklands Park. The whole process from identifying our needs, through liaising with designers and ensuring the finished play area was completed to a high standard ran smoothly from start to finish. We now have a fun, engaging and environmentally sympathetic play area that all our park visitors can be proud of.'