Adventure Aberdeen’s Playground

24 March 2012 · 2 comments

in Developing School Grounds & Outdoor Spaces, Outdoor Play

Eighteen months ago I blogged about an undeveloped outdoor space. This post is a celebration of a remarkable makeover of this grim patch. It is still a work in progress but I think you’ll agree that the Adventure Aberdeen staff have done a wonderful job. Eighteen months ago this was what the site looked like:



The area was unsecured. There were cracks in the walls and mostly it was a mossy green space. Spot the difference now:

The place just looked unloved and neglected. It had been for a while as it used to be an old school playground years ago.

Now the fence has been fixed and all sorts of features added:

The whole project has been undertaken on a shoestring budget. Because of this, the staff have made the most of free items and sources of assistance available locally. In the biking area below, the bumps and ramps have been created by tyres covered with grit. They did have to hire a digger for a day.

40 tonnes of topsoil was donated by a local building company. Whilst the area looks barren at the moment, some of the mounds and features will be planted with wildflowers and other native plants.

There are two ponds on site. Again, the area around these features will be planted up. Eventually they will be great for pond dipping and mini beast hunts.

Throughout the site, orienteering markers have been placed to enable people to learn the basics of orienteering on-site before trying more challenging courses elsewhere.

The murals were painted through a community project. They are the back drop for a traversing climbing wall. This is made from holds used on a previous wall. The bark chips came from the parks services and make a perfectly adequate safety surface, given the height of the holds. There is also going to be a vertical climbing wall located in the centre of the biking area.

The big tractors tyres are for a team challenge which involves creating bridges for groups to traverse across. The big lids were made by the staff. In the background you can see the low ropes course. This is for completing in teams of four people. The hessian around the trees is to prevent sap from the trees making people’s hands sticky as they negotiate the course. Underneath the hessian are old sails as the trees do bleed copious amounts of sap. I love the use of the tyres as retaining walls. Again, the staff created all these features.

Now let’s have a look at the playspace for younger children. Below is the fire pit and singing circle that was created by a community service group working under a local ranger. One of the instructors is also a freelance voice worker so has tested the area for its acoustics!

Check out the water bowser! It was salvaged from Summerhill Education Centre which closed in 2010. The water really does come gushing out. The benches it is standing on, were salvaged from the cloakroom of the creche at Summerhill. This is going to ensure lots of interesting water play.

This is where the bowser gets filled up…

The tyres below are multi-functional. Holes at different heights were drilled in the wooden gym bars from the Summerhill Centre. The bars fit perfectly into the wooden lids on the tyres. Doweling is added to make guttering stands for water play. There is enough guttering, bars and doweling to cover the the length of the playspace. Yay!

The lids on the tyres were created by the staff from wood which has been beautifully painted in a variety of colours. They are screwed on tight. This means they are exceptionally strong and can be walked or run along. This is great fun. They are squishy and sink slightly under your weight. The wooden stumps and other bits lying around came from a “Come and Help Yourself Day” at a nearby forest.

We had a look at why they were so squishy. The bottom tyre is filled with chip pings, bark and mulch. But the top tyre isn’t:

The tyres also house signs that are used for team-building activities. I think they are made for a few traffic signs too!

The concrete slabs protruding out of the grass now have big sensory pits on top. One is sand, one is soil and the other is stones and shells for children to use as they wish when playing here. The containers used to be the cooker hoods at Summerhill. What a beautiful example of re-using and re-purposing unwanted items.

The large concrete pipes came from the City Ranger service. There’s two of them within the play area. I like the soft surfacing inside!

Finally there are lots of trugs filled with a variety of toys, ropes and other bits and pieces. These are put out for children to use as they want in the outdoor space.

What can’t be seen so clearly in the photos are the old climbing ropes up high. These have been added for enabling 3D play into the area. Think karabiners and ropes and pulleys! Finally, no playground created by adventurous activity instructors would be complete with out a boat. With a sail too!

The Adventure Aberdeen Centre is open to school groups as well as private and commercial enquiries. It’s lovely to see a playspace designed for adults and children! After all, even adults do need and enjoy playing outside too.

So I’m looking forward to the next eighteen months as this space gets lots of use and the area over the wall gets a makeover too. That’s another blog post for the future. Do remember that if you live or work within travelling distance of Adventure Aberdeen then you can book a day to bring your class. Also, if you are interesting in purchasing the tyre tops, please get in touch with Adventure Aberdeen via their website.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kierna C March 24, 2012 at 08:52

Oh Juliet, what an inspirational story – and no plastic insight! I love the idea of the bouncy tyres. It just shows what can be done when people come together, I look forward to seeing how this space will develop over time. Kierna

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Juliet Robertson March 24, 2012 at 08:57

The bouncy tyres are fab. I want a set too! For playing on and with and for storage.

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