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Case Study

Beehive Community Centre, Bordon, Hampshire

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In 2020 we were approached by The Whitehill & Bordon Community Trust to help create an area of play which focused on learning about the natural world. With a name like Beehive, the centre provided its own theme and we were able to tailor our products to suit the natural surroundings. This project was all about thinking outside of the box to create something the children would really love, yet encourage natural play.

The Honeycomb Craft Zone allows children of all abilities to gather together to create crayon rubbings using the templates. Designs include: Hedgehog, Fox, Badger & Mouse. Manufactured using HDPE, these templates are durable, hard wearing and safe for children to use. Using this same idea we created the Scavenger Hunt Table which can be tailored to suit its surroundings so the children can find the items shown. This particular Scavenger hunt featured: Pine Cones, Acorn, Sycamore Leaf, Feather, Oak Leaf, Birch Leaf.

Musical instruments and play panels help bring any play area to life. Here we used Flower Chimes and a Petal Drum, which sound great in this natural surrounding. The play panel used here keeps in with the natural theme whilst helping children understand how flowers and Bees need each other. We added a Mini Beast Planter and Mud Kitchen to the area to further enhance the natural play theme. Two Essential benches completed the area, providing a place to rest in between activities.

We finished the project on time and within budget in September 2021 when the children had gone back to school. Our client said It has been a pleasure to work with the Sawscapes Play team again. All of the installers were professional, polite and the site was clear at all times – Fabulous Service!”

Pioneer School, SEN Specialist, Basildon

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In 2019 we received a call from returning customer, Pioneer School who were developing plans to create an accessible forest school in unused space within the school grounds. We were thrilled to be a part of the development stages and in summer 2020 we began working on the first phase: All weather pathway & Fire Pit.

The idea was to create an accessible, all weather pathway that led to a Fire Pit which was safe for all users.

Tree Stump Stools and Seats line the edge of the Fire Pit, which is set within a stone circle. The paving surrounds the brick enclosure housing the rustic fire pit dish.

Later in 2020 we began works on phase two: The Outdoor Classroom. The aim was to provide an all weather classroom for the Forest School Area which could be easily accessible by all children of all abilities. Our 6m Gazebo was the perfect option. With sides wide open, it allows free movement in and out whilst providing shelter from the sun and rain.

To further enhance the learning experience, a large, accessible pond was added during the summer of 2021. Designed to encourage wildlife yet self clean, the pond also had to be completely secure to prevent accidents. We worked along side staff at the school to come up with a solution that suits their needs at an affordable price!

The images above show the construction of the pond with a solar powered pump, rock filtration system and fully lined pond area. The trellis was added to secure the area with two double lockable gates. The water pours effortlessly over the slate centre creating relaxing sounds.

 

 

 

 

Rucstall Primary School, Basingstoke, Hampshire

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In January 2021 we were approached by a local school who required some help in maximising the potential of their playground. This first stage, improving sports facilities, would be the first of a three-year development plan.

Our Multi Goal Sharp Shooter was the perfect product to fulfil their immediate need. It offers a football goal, basketball net and targets for shooting or even throwing practise.

As part of a three-year project to improve the outdoor facilities for the children at Rucstall Primary School, within the first stage we wanted to not only increase the opportunities for active play during recreational periods but to enhance the sporting provision across the school too. After meeting with a variety of different companies, we decided to go for a more natural wooden-style structure to fit with the existing surroundings and Sawscapes Play seemed to be the best fit in terms of what we were looking for.  

 Due to the size of our playground, we opted for two of the timber multi-end goals to run alongside the far edge and to install two permanent basketball posts on the opposite side.  

 The timber multi-end goals have proved incredibly popular with the children and it is great to see the structures used in different ways. Our youngest children enjoy climbing in and out of the targets during break times whilst the children in Key Stage 1 and 2 utilise not only the football goals, but the target holes for aiming and throwing. By far the most popular sport at Rucstall is now basketball and attaching basketball nets to the timber goals has meant we have two full basketball courts for use in PE lessons.

 From the early days of designing through to the final installation, the process has been both efficient and professional. We are delighted with the installation and to sum it up with a quote from a Year 6 pupil, “Break times are just SO much better now!” – Mr Dan Mills, Deputy Headteacher.

Christ Church New Malden C of E Primary School

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In November 2020, we were alerted to the fact that Christ Church New Malden C of E Primary School had recently received a failed inspection report for their Nursery Play Area. Unfortunately, they had found out that their existing climbing frame was not fit for use, due to the rotten timber structure and that it had therefore, been condemned.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, school fundraising had proved difficult and had changed the way their normal fundraising events were carried out. The school’s PTA decided to set up a ‘Go Fund Me’ crowdfunding web page for their project. Thanks to this “out-of-the-box thinking” the school had a budget ready for a replacement to be installed quite quickly.

We visited the site in early December 2020 and took on board what the staff wanted to incorporate into the new climbing frame and play area and went away and designed something accordingly.

“Sawscapes Play contacted our school after seeing the ‘Go Fund Me’ page and expressed an interest in our project. Our Early Years team loved the design proposed to us as it really transformed the whole area, rather than just replacing a unit. It was just slightly over our budget; however, it was much better value for money. As a company, everything ran very smoothly, and last-minute changes were factored in and made the project very easy and problem free. Sawscapes Play were very accommodating and helpful with the financial situation. The key features we wanted to incorporate was a slide, fire pole, and bridge – all of which were taken on board and included in the design. All involved, from design to the install team, all members of Sawscapes Play followed our schools Covid-19 risk assessment and worked as safely as possible – they were all brilliant. The children loved to watch the progress of work each day and are all now very pleased with the final outcome. They all absolutely love it, as do the staff! It has made the play area safer too. Unlimited hours of fun for our children! – Jason Brown (School Office)

The new Nursery Play Area now includes a bespoke three tower unit, featuring two access points –stairs and a pull up rope climber and two exit points – a slide and a fire pole, along with a rope clatter bridge and straight bridge. All our timber was root fixed using stainless steel feet to increase the longevity of the equipment, ensuring value for money and the safety of its users.

Quote from one of the nursery children – Benedict: ‘’I love the fire pole – it’s like I’m flying!!’’

The play area also now has a Mini Mud Kitchen to recreate a new digging area, creating an imaginative, sensory and role play environment for the children – further adding to the play value of the area. This is all married together with an autumn blend mix of bound rubber mulch to create a safe, fun-filled environment for the children to experience and explore.

 

Treloar Heights, Alton, Hampshire

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As part of our tender submission to redevelop the condemned play area in Treloar Heights, our proposal included an extension to the overall space, perimeter fencing with self closing gates, seating, bins and play equipment with appropriate surfacing.

As with many public play areas, the preference was with a natural looking provision which we were able to offer. Our mixture of timber structures and durable Bound Rubber Mulch was perfect for the area and we were able to begin our manufacture and installation.

The play space includes a tower unit to suit a wide range of ages while our Jungle Swing and Spinning Dish offer full body support and are suitable for less able users. All of our timber was root fixed using stainless steel feet to extend its lifetime ensuring value for money and the safety of users.

The Butts Primary School, Alton, Hampshire

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The garden used by the early years at this primary school was looking tired and worn, it had been well loved over the years and it was simply time for a change.  The school made contact with us to discuss some options as they were trying to fund raise for the area.  With lots of trees and natural space we felt the area should retain that rural feeling whilst providing a new play area which would enhance the children’s learning and development.

During our first meeting we discussed the possibility of a performance stage; the children were currently using a little step with some chairs and it seemed only right that we try to provide something much more substantial.  They also requested some equipment that would encourage the children to climb and explore so we discussed the addition of the Vine Ropes and a Mini Mountain.

At the far end of the play area, there was a zone just perfect for digging and planting amongst the trees – this got us thinking about enhancing the children’s outdoor learning.  We created a Dig Pit with mud kitchen, potting table and planters for the children to get involved in exploring and caring for the environment.

The musical instruments shown above, had been installed for quite a few years and whilst the metal components had weathered well, they desperately needed new timbers.  In a new location, with new timbers and a polish, they looked brand new.  Carrying out regular maintenance on outdoor equipment can prevent corrosion, prolong life and ensure safety guidelines are met, so we highly recommend regular inspections on all outdoor play equipment.  As standard we return to every site, 6 months after install to check and inspect the equipment free of charge.  We also have tiered maintenance packages tailored to suit your needs – for more information please get in touch.

Click here to see our range of musical equipment.

To make the most out of the play house already in situ, we added a Mini Corner Shop which encourages the children to extend the content of the imaginary play.  The simple structure provides the base for many scenario’s from corner shop to stables; the children can easily turn it into something else.

In keeping with the natural theme we wanted to create a snug, or reading den to encourage children to read together and to make it more fun.  The Reading Den allows children to use pillows, cushions and sheets to create a cosy hide away.  The nature of the “blank canvas” design means the area can be dressed to certain themes or left to the children’s imaginations.

The key feature and the schools most wanted item is the Bespoke Performance Stage.  The idea was to create a stage big enough for lots of children to play and perform together, to provide them with the prop to encourage the development in these areas.  The final design incorporated a black board on which the children can write about their performances, developing their fine motor and communication skills.  As you can see from the images, the stage itself is constructed on a timber frame surrounded by open pickets which keeps the line of sight open in the play space.

Whiteley Primary School

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We were approached by Whiteley Primary School to create a play area which could be used by all pupils no matter what their physical ability.  It was important for the play area to encourage the children to play together whilst enhancing their creative, imaginative and communicative development.  The surfacing was to be all weather and allow full access for all children.  A truly Inclusive Play area.

Our design team set to work creating a timber structure inspired by historical ruins and dilapidated buildings.  As crazy as that may sound, the idea was that ruins gave way to imagination – they could be anything.  Ruins give the feeling that there is no boundary, exit points are endless, allowing free movement.  The timber “ruins” shown above mirror this idea.  The internal passages are wide and free of obstruction to allow wheelchair users complete access, with entry and exit points to allow for games such as “Hide and Seek”.

The children decided on the name “Whiteley Folly” which is just perfect – A Folly is “a ruin with no specific purpose”.  With imagination the possibilities are endless.

There are a few built in extra’s to enhance the play value: a mini corner shop, 2 play panels and den posts.  Each allowing children to play together, constantly encouraging development of social skills through play.

The school also asked us if we could produce some equipment which would encourage imaginative play, encourage performance skills and enhance social skills.  We immediately got to work on our Performance Screen and Play Castle.  With all weather and accessible surfacing the area now looks incredible and allows children of all abilities to play together with ease.

Installation took place in August 2020 for both area’s and we are thrilled with the result.  The children were delighted to return to school to find the new equipment!

Chilton Fields Ampitheatre

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In 2014, the Vale of White Horse District Council commissioned sculptural artist Tim Norris to create a ‘piece of artwork that would bring the community closer together’.  Recent building works have seen the small town grow, so it was important to create something which could bring the existing community together with the new.

Tim Norris specialises in large-scale outdoor sculptural works, drawing inspiration from surrounding landscape and where possible uses indigenous natural materials, in combination with recycled or engineered parts.

Inspiration for the initial sketch (seen above) was taken firstly from The Ridgeway Path, also known as Britain’s oldest Roman road, which is situated near by and secondly from the Diamond Synchrotron which is a state of the art scientific device at the forefront of modern science and located in Chilton itself.  This very modern piece of architecture takes the Roman’s love of socialising and performance on a grand scale and combines it with the internal Zigzag design of the Diamond Synchrotron, meaning that Tim was naturally led to design an traditional amphitheatre with a modern twist.  The construction of the project would need precise planning and materials would be carefully selected based on their individual properties.

Opepe Decking – This dark honey coloured timber is famed for its durability and density.

Maccaferri Gabion’s – These cages are engineered from double twisted hexagonal woven steel mesh.  The high quality steel wire is heavily galvanised to provide long term protection from corrosion.  However, the cages are only manufactured in squares and for this project rectangles were necessary to create the shape.  Tim was able to have these adapted in his studio.

Ardley Limestone – Quarried in the East of Oxfordshire, this limestone is a naturally beautiful but strong and versatile stone.

With the design complete and planning granted, the parish council approached us to see if we would interested in taking part in such a niche project.  Having installed some play equipment near by in 2019 we had built a relationship and they knew of our working standards.  As soon as we heard about it we were excited to get started, our teams love extraordinary projects like this.  As you can see from the images below we began with a blank canvas, with our first job to dig out to make room for the structure inside the existing mound.  Next the gabions were brought in and filled with almost 100 tonnes of limestone, an extremely labour intensive job and a lot more precise than you would think.  Each stone had to be laid with purpose to create a level top on which the timber was to rest.

To create the smooth curve for the circular lower level the timber had to be subject to a process called Steam Bending, a technique where wood is exposed to steam to make it pliable.  Heat and moisture from steam can soften wood fibres enough so they can be bent and stretched, when cooled down they will hold their new shape.  A process with astounding results.  In total 350m of timber was laid in precise positions at specific lengths to create the stylish seating.

Originally the flooring was to have a country feel, most probably a self binding gravel path however, the final material chosen was Resin bound stone.  The blend of rubber and stone creates a more durable, all weather surfacing.  With a smoother and cleaner finish, it is less likely to fall victim to vandalism and requires next to no maintenance.

 

 

 

 

CLEVELAND SQUARE, London

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In May 2018, we received a call from the Cleveland Square Residents Group after their new play equipment failed an inspection during installation.  It is not standard practise to have an inspection during installation however the group had concerns about some safety aspects and whether the equipment was going to be fit for purpose.  The Inspection highlighted head, finger, and foot entrapment’s, strangulation and crush points, and trees within the fall space.  A total of 22 findings on a piece of equipment which was partially built.  The contractor fled and the residents were left with a piece of unfinished equipment unfit for purpose.

For 19 months we worked along side the residents group to design an exciting piece of play equipment that was safe for the children.   The residents requested that The Play Inspection Company inspected our work at regular intervals for piece of mind, completely understandable after their previous experience.

 

 

As you can see from the designs above we created two robinia towers packed with play value and connected by a bespoke rope bridge.  Robinia timber is very hard, dense wood and has a naturally high resistance to rot and decay so seemed the perfect choice for the setting.  It also looks great amongst the trees in the residential gardens.  It was important for the unit to be suitable for children of various ages, we achieved this by creating a number of access points which vary in difficulty and adding a second slide at a lower level.

We added steel feet to the unit for extra protection against rot, due to the damp condition of the ground below the trees.  Then covered the area with tiger mulch as the safety surface and keeping the colour blend with the natural theme.

The residents and their children are thrilled with the result, as are we!

DANES HILL SCHOOL (Pre-Preparatory), Oxshott

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In September 2019, following an annual inspection Phil Cunningham, Grounds Keeper at Danes Hill Preparatory School approached us to request a quotation for repair works to their existing equipment.  However, in October 2019, it was decided to replace the old and worn piece of equipment with something new, imaginative and exciting for the children in this EYFS Setting.  The area is within the Pre-Preparatory area of the school, so the children are aged 3 and 4 years old.  Keeping this in mind, we began creating bespoke timber play equipment that would later become known as “The Good Ship Bevendean”. With a budget of £20k and the idea of a timber pirate ship we wanted to incorporate physical play with encouraging imaginative play.  It is proven that young children learn best whilst at play so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine the two.

This particular Ship offers crawling, climbing and sliding, perfect for physical development.  Spaces are provided for children to role play, socialise and interact with each other allowing for development of other areas of learning and development in the EYFS such as personal, social and emotional but also communication and language.

The installation was completed during the school’s Christmas break, luckily the weather was on our side!  It meant the surfacing could be installed without issue and we think you will agree that the shark infested waters really bring this timber pirate ship to life!  The children returned to school in January and were thrilled.  It has been a much used and well loved piece of equipment.

Adding simple accessories to a piece of play equipment can quickly enhance the play value.  The portholes and flag pole used here emphasise the fact that this is a Ship, helping young imaginations create their own interpretations.  Ropes, rock holds and domed windows are available in multiple colours.