Covering an area of over 600 acres (242.8 ha), Heaton Park in Manchester is one of Europe’s largest municipal parks.
Various timber structures in the play area had begun to rot, including a 10m-high tower with 8m-high slide.
After consultation with Manchester City Council, Massey & Harris suggested that the large slide be dismantled and saved for installation onto a new tower to be designed specifically for the park. Being the city's largest park, the new structure needed a ‘wow’ factor and the concept of the UFO was presented as a modern update of the old tower.
Funding was secured for this particular project, then additional funding was put in place to carry out a comprehensive redevelopment of the entire play area and a ‘Space’ theme was chosen as the basis for further design ideas.
Completely new designs were created for a Toddler Space Station play unit, a wheelchair accessible roundabout with orbiting planets, 'space' themed educational play panels, and of course the giant 9.5m-high UFO with Air Lock Access Tower.
Alongside the bespoke equipment, new swings, spinners and springies were included and new safety surfacing was installed throughout.
An area of artificial grass with boulders was also included for use all year-round as an informal place to play and sit in the shade of the trees.
The UFO has been particularly well received and makes the play area a real destination location. By re-using the slide with some modifications, a significant saving was made on the overall cost of the UFO.
The play area is used by large numbers of children over the course of the year and there is now a real variety of play features to excite children of all ages for years to come.