Timberplay was contracted by the City of Coventry and Coombe Country Park to create an innovative play space for the second phase of development at the park near Coventry in the West Midlands. The park is a Capability Brown designed landscape that attracts over 400,000 visitors each year, many of them being children.
The brief was to provide a high-use play concept that fitted into the historic woodland landscape, to challenge the general concept of play in the UK, and to create something exciting where the children need to be risk aware.
It was important that the facility appealed to older children over the age of 10 as well as helping young children to develop skills.
After more than 12 months in the design process, which involved Timberplay, the City of Coventry, Coombe Country Park and Timberplay, installation of a climbing forest began in March 2006. It was completed for use in early May 2006, and officially opened in June 2006.
The whole structure was individually designed for the specific location. The timbers that were used retain their natural shape and are selected to fit the natural surroundings. The different shapes of the timbers correspond to the different degrees of climbing difficulty.
The oak timbers (which are planed and prepared by hand) appear to grow from the ground. They are linked using high-performance steel-core rope wires, bridges and nets.
The climbing forest was the first of its kind in the UK, it provides an area for children of all ages and abilities where they can learn to understand risk and play in a safe environment.
Joe Taylor, Head Ranger at Coombe Country Park commented, "I’ve seen late teens and early 20 year olds using the Play Forest, alongside 9 and 10 year olds whizzing around it! The only downside is that we would like it to be bigger. We’ve heard the kids saying stuff like ‘Wonderful´ and ‘Fantastic."
In a recent assessment, Rob Wheway of CAPT (Child Accident Prevention Trust) stated, "The item is an innovative design. It offers excitement and challenge, which is particularly popular with older children, an age group often overlooked."