The digitally-enhanced playground will provide immersive Hans Christian Andersen play experiences.McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford shared a first look at the designs for its brand new play area, which will be the first guest facility delivered as part of the center’s £90 million expansion currently underway. The digitally-enhanced playground will feature immersive augmented reality play experiences and include one of the UK’s tallest open space Robinia treehouse towers.
Designed and installed by Kompan, Europe’s largest provider of outdoor play equipment, the new playground has been customized to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience for McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford’s younger visitors, featuring a bespoke ‘Garden of England’ theme.
Opening in spring 2019, a major focal point for the play area will be a seven-meter high Robinia tree house, which has been designed exclusively for McArthurGlen and will be the only tree house of its kind in the world. The structure will feature a range of exciting play challenges alongside a host of innovative new features in the playground, including tactile and sensory equipment, interactive play with smartphone technology and educational activities.
The SMART Playground’s innovative technology means that through QR codes placed on the playground equipment – or via the Apple or Android App Store – children can download the Hans Christian Andersen Play Gate app. When the app is opened children will enjoy digital versions of their favorite fairy tales, sparking their imaginations and opening the door for themed play. With augmented reality, The Play Gate app also allows fairy tale characters to 'magically' appears on the playground, where adults can encourage children to interact with the character and promote role play in the playground.
The ‘Garden of England’ theme will be further brought to life through bright flowers and butterflies, giant grass blades and an abundance of greenery, benefitting the health and wellness of children and forming a natural extension of the Living Wall, which will be unveiled in the center next year.
The new playground delivers a world-class play space for children of all abilities and includes wheelchair accessible equipment to ensure every child has equal access to the best play opportunities. Through its expansion, McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford will also be introducing more disabled and family car parking spaces, as well as a Changing Places Facility, to ensure all guests enjoy an excellent experience when visiting the center.
While the new playground is under construction, a temporary play area for 3–6 year-olds has been set up opposite Pizza Express, ensuring that the center’s little visitors are entertained until the new playground arrives next year. The center’s old, much-loved children’s play area, which was previously located next to the food court, was dismantled and donated to Wingham Wildlife Park in April this year.
2 NOVEMBER 2018, United Kingdom