A community hub where art and play meet

Date completed: April 2012
Location: Kimberley Park, Falmouth
Sectors worked with: Local Authority
Play types encouraged:

Exploratory play

Exploratory play icon

This happens when children decide to investigate their physical surroundings, exploring new spaces and ‘ranging’. What they require are places that provide spatial diversity and interest, opportunities to move into unknown territory and environments that stimulate their curiosity and imagination.

Imaginative play

Imaginative play icon

Playing pretend allows children to stretch their imaginations, create their own worlds and explore real life situations in ways that are manageable for their stage of development. They need flexible environments that they can adapt for their own purposes and which stimulate all the senses.

Quiet play

Quiet play icon

We all need time and space to be still and relax. For children this time is vital for integrating the many sensory impressions they encounter throughout the day. Quiet play allows them to rest, dream and refuel their brains and bodies. They need spaces that feel safe, comfortable and contained.

Social play

Social play icon

Making friends, sharing stories, learning the rules of a new game - children are social beings and play is a perfect way to learn about yourself and other people. In social play children can explore relationship dynamics and learn how to express their needs, establish boundaries and resolve differences.

Physical play

Physical play icon

Children’s minds and bodies grow in relation to their physical environment and require experimentation and challenge to reach their full potential. Physical play helps children understand what their bodies are capable of and allows them to take the necessary risks required for healthy development.

Loose Parts play

Loose Parts play icon

Banging on pots, making mud pies, building dens – these activities teach children about the physical and textural qualities of materials and how different elements fit together. Loose parts play offers sensory pleasure as well as developing hand eye coordination and problem solving skills.

 

Story: We were approached by a local landscape architect to design a play space for Kimberley Park in Falmouth. It was an exciting proposition: a large space with hardly any existing equipment that needed play experiences for all ages, from toddlers to teens, and had to incorporate three playful kinetic sculptures made by Cornish artists.

Design: We designed the space using natural connecting features:  incorporating land formations, play mounds and hollows, tunnels, accessible pathways and even a tree house with a climbing play route leading away from it. All these elements linked together to create an integrated play landscape.

For the younger children we created a toddler play area with sand play stations and imaginative land forms, all enclosed with native hedging to enhance the biodiversity of the park. Initially the community expected to have a metal dog fence around the toddler area. We convinced them to plant a native hedge (protected by a less visible stock proof fence) to draw wildlife into the play space and provide a softer boundary to enclose the space.

The older children were catered for with more challenging equipment and structures including a high tower accessed by wonky deck steps, a huge log tangle and a really high slide. A very popular feature that we installed was a German made climbing whirl – a tall double coned net structure that is very dynamic and exciting.

The artists developed three very unique interactive pieces of art which we incorporated into the fabric of the space. One of them we sited at the top of a specially designed spiral hill.

“The park built by Earth Wrights has had a huge effect on the town. It has created a hub that wasn’t previously there. All ages from babies to grannies seem to be catered for (and more importantly, independently entertained). I know of many people who come to Falmouth specifically as a day out in the park. Which given the appeal of the beaches says an awful lot. The build is also of exceptional quality, durability, and ethically and sustainably sourced. 11 out of 10 all-round!”

Rob Higgs, local sculptor

Lasting effect

It has proven to be a massive success for Falmouth, drawing people in from Cornwall and beyond. It is well known as a destination park for visitors, strengthening the social fabric of the town, providing a place where people meet and make play dates knowing they can spend the whole day in their park and their kids will be happy.

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