War Memorial Park Play Area, Romsey, Test Valley
A sculptural and sensory play park adds an interesting new dimension to the almost century old War Memorial Park in Romsey. Centred on a unique globe play structure the play area combines the monumental tone of remembrance with the liveliness of children at play in one shared community space.
A play area befitting of a Memorial Park
The picturesque Memorial Park is situated at a fork in the River Test with tree-lined paths that follow the run of the River on both sides. The park caters well for the community with a Bowling Green, café, children's play area, two tennis courts, fishing opportunities as well as seating, flowerbeds and in the centre a restored Bandstand. In the aftermath of World War 1, money was collected for a local memorial, which was then used to create the public park.
Test Valley Borough Council put out a tender brief inviting play design companies to submit proposals for a new play area for the park. This new play area had to have a different feel from the existing, traditional play area and designed in a way that acknowledged the remembrance theme of the park. It was requested that it should sit well in the existing environment while bringing something new to it. The design also needed to include a statement element to it.
A sculptural solution combining both play and remembrance
Russell Play won the tender with their approach to the brief, which was to supply not only an appropriate standout original play structure, but to create an encompassing sensory environment around it. Firstly, the Globe rope climber was chosen to serve as the centre piece of the design as it provides climbing play in a more distinctive sculptural form. The innovative three dimensional rope climber offers a stunning play feature and is truly unique in its construction.
Russell Play had previously created a play garden for the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire using the Globe as a centre piece. The Globe was used to represent the coming together of the world. It is very popular with visitors and served as the main inspiration for this project. The Globe is eye catching and has a real presence. Whether in play-use or not, the natural timber and colour with its clean lines and geometry sit well in the green and leafy setting. Russell Play understands that a play area should fit the environment and need not necessarily be bold and brash or have gaudy colours to invite children to play.
An inviting play area that is not bold and brash
Elements of remembrance can be incorporated into the design in a sensitive way. In this case engraved timber sleepers along a sensory walkway guide children along the path where step–by–step they can appreciate a poem or a quote
Emanating out beyond the circle on either side of the path approach, two small groups of steel play items are placed. A set of ‘Champignon’ leapfrog elements on one side and three spiral climbers on the other extend the play outside the circle. The play area also includes a willow tunnel and an enclosed entrance to the site delivering an element of discovery to the experience. All of these features combined serve to enhance the centre play piece, forming a site which delivers unique play activities complementing the existing surrounding with recognition and understanding.