This is our third installation at Dumfries House. We previously designed and installed an outdoor activity area and the wood-based site-specific play space in the estate’s grounds, which has proved to be extremely popular with local children and visiting families, and so we were delighted when Dumfries asked us back to design a large scale and innovative water play park.
The Harmony Outdoor Area was created as a natural elements play space for public visitors to Dumfries House Estate. It also acts as an outdoor learning space for the STEM education programme based at the new Morphy Richards Engineering Building, so has a strong educational element whilst still focusing on play.
The equipment, by Richter Spielgeräte GmbH, was selected to enable children to start exploring their environment and experiment with physical forces and states. The space offers rich and complex opportunities to interact with different materials and play with all four natural elements: earth, wind, fire and water.
Children can explore the earth element by playing with sand and mud, and learning about plant growth and willow dens. The Conference Telephones, Parabolic Reflectors, Dendrophone and Stone Xylophone allow children to play with sound, air and vibration. The covered water play area water includes innovative play elements Archimedes Screw and Nautilus Snail.
The play items reflect perfectly our commitment to obtaining the highest quality product, which results in the highest quality of experience for the child. Judging by the reactions of local children at our launch event, the equipment provided lots of fun. As these children learn to manage the inherent risks of fire, water, and other elements we hope that any slips and scrapes are outweighed by the benefits that a little risk can bring to our children’s quality of life and development.
By learning to harness and play with these elements, the children also continue to manage and understand risk. It is important for our children to learn to manage such risks at an early age. Their physical and mental health will be the beneficiaries at the expense, maybe, of a few cuts and grazes. We hope that they will enjoy the experience. If today’s anything to go by, the shrieks of laughter are a great first sign. Hopefully, all will see the benefit from the children exploring such an environment with a light touch and be able to remind ourselves of the benefits that a little risk can bring to our children’s quality of life and development.