“Playhive” is a new environmentally conscious £3.5m immersive indoor play facility at Stockeld Park in North Yorkshire.
Stockeld Park, a Grade-I listed country house and estate is situated between the towns of Wetherby and Harrogate. It is home to Peter and Susie Grant, who had the vision to convert their 2,000 acres estate into a playground for fun and adventure with an enchanted forest, magical maze, barnyard and a tepee encampment.
The latest addition to the attractions is the Playhive – a sustainably sourced indoor play area making the facility a true all year-round experience.
The design of the Playhive reflects the sustainable and environmental aspirations of the Peter and Susie, and at 20,000 square feet, making it one of Europe’s largest indoor play facilities.
Shaped like a doughnut, the building has a central courtyard with a transparent and fully recyclable roof. This circular building is clad in Siberian Larch timber, and its curved façade features carved “tree trunks” that climb up to the roof.
The roof itself is green sedum, which improves air quality and absorbs rainwater to slow water runoff, helping the building to blend in with its lush green surroundings. Key design decisions were driven by a need to respect and preserve the existing natural setting in which the Playhive is routed within.
The building was carefully positioned and dug approximately two metres into the earth, allowing it to softly sink into the landscape. For Peter and Susie, the forest is an integral part of Stockeld Park, therefore the new building needed to blend into the existing woodland environment.
Internally, natural materials were selected, and parts of the internal structure have been left exposed, such as the block work walls and steel beams. The design of the closely intertwined interior and exterior of the play facility came to life as a result of a close collaboration between the Corstorphine & Wright, Peter and Susie and a specialist in set design.
This enormous play structure houses four interconnected worlds of space, air, jungle and sea – with structures ascending up to eight metres in height, flowing through high level gantries, suspended planets and bridges up into the roof, which connect back down to the external courtyard.
Peter said: “Playhive is a passion project with some really spectacular features. We didn’t want the usual soft play scene, but one that inspires imaginations. Stockeld Park is an exhilarating celebration of nature, so naturally our newest addition to the estate had to capture this same spirit. We originally had the idea for the Playhive to be fashioned on the style of an old tree trunk, that could be a buzzing habitat for activities and an anchor for the outdoor trail – the end result is truly joyful.”
Corstorphine & Wright Director Simon Crosby led the design team on the project and commented: “Playhive has been specifically dynamically designed so that there is no set route to follow, it is fully interactive to allow children to navigate the four areas in their own time. Many sensory elements have been added to encourage interactive play. This has been an exhilarating and very unusual project to work on with Peter, Susie and their team, enabling their unique visions to come to life is extremely reward for all of the team.”
Playhive officially opened on Thursday 21 July 2023.