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Upper Cambourne Big Leap Play Area


Detailed design and delivery of a natural play space at the heart of Upper Cambourne. Consultation with the public and workshops with local children helped us create an exciting, imaginative and challenging play space on behalf of our client for this growing community.

The Upper Cambourne Green play area provides a place for natural play, a growing trend for more imaginative play area design that is now supported by Government policy and Play England best practice guidance. It inspires creative, challenging and original forms of play by providing a more natural and engaging environment for children. Natural play places greater emphasis on natural elements – landforms, rock, trees and logs - as multi functional play features, with only select use of non prescriptive play equipment. Children are encouraged to explore, take risks and challenge themselves. Spaces are designed to create opportunities for social interaction and encourage different forms of play across a variety of ages.

Community consultation was a vital element to the design process. Engagement with Cambourne’s residents allowed us to discuss the scheme with the parents and children who will eventually use the play space. This important feedback enabled us to refine the designs to reflect the wishes of the local people. The rich archaeological history of the area provided inspiration for the play space design - in this case the Bronze Age was chosen as a theme, incorporating various elements of the period such as rock carvings, standing stones, stone circles and fortified settlements.  

The play space comprises four distinct areas:
  • A space for climbing and swinging featuring a large bird’s nest tree climbing structure; spinning and bouncing carousels; a large multi-user nest swing and a swinging hammock.
  • A circular area with large multi-swing which links to the toddler play area by rocky valley outcrops and fallen tree bridge.
  • A toddler area designed for younger users, comprising a Bronze Age ‘settlement’ surrounded by a timber stockade. Included inside the area are; a multi-play unit with platform hut; slide and net; toddler swings and timber play horses.
  • A large standing stone and stone circle surrounded by wildflower and grass sculpture inspired by Bronze Age rock carvings. This area provides a defined space with no prescriptive purpose encouraging children to develop their own forms of play.
The separate areas are surrounded by landform of varying heights and shape and linked together by a network of informal paths and ‘valleys’ which connect the spaces and lead out to the village green beyond.  Rock outcrops, stepping logs and climbing trees are situated throughout the play space to provide further opportunities for exciting and imaginative play.