Nature Splash is a new direction in water park design which combines elements of aquatic play with nature play to provide a more engaging, challenging and diverse play experience.
A Nature Splash Park serves as both a water playground and nature play space and offers year round use with the option to disable the water play functions during the cooler months.
Researchers at the University of WA have found that natural playgrounds provide children with more opportunities than typical pre-formed playgrounds to develop gross-motor skills.
Their research supports inclusion of natural elements such as rock, timber and water because children who play in natural settings play in more diverse, imaginative and creative ways and show improved language and collaboration skills. Single use, repetitive play equipment – as found in a traditional playground – becomes boring quickly.
Natural, irregular and challenging spaces help kids learn to recognise, assess and negotiate risk and build confidence and competence. You can find more of this research and the benefits of nature play at the WA-government-sponsored website.
We have used this research to develop a water park design that incorporates climbable mountains of terraced rock and fort-mounted water cannons, natural log steps, cascading waterfalls, misting tunnels, random ground geysers, rocky spillways, enclosed slides, overhead showers, giant dumper buckets and leaf races.
The design possibilities are endless and we’ve recently completed a “Mountain and Valley” themed nature splash park for the City of Wangaratta in NSW incorporating many of the features mentioned above along with a Toddler Corner complete with adjustable water mushrooms, gentle ground sprays and a decanting feature which allows the littlies to fill and tip a series of cups from gently trickling fountains.
Children benefit greatly from unstructured play, particularly make-believe play. And kids are far more creative in natural play spaces than on the typical flat playground of old. They are far more likely to invent their own games in natural places and the addition of water makes it even more fun!