Creating environments where time falls away

How can we work with you to increase dwell time?

At Touchwood, we believe that dwell time is a key way to evaluate the success of any playground or play structure. Through our iconic structures that are unique to their specific setting, we aim to provide timeless, positive experiences for all our visitors. In addition, we create environments that invite visitors to explore natural designs that inspire long durations of engagement and play. 

We often remind each other here at Touchwood of the words that the scholar Marketa Kytta wrote, We are not building playgrounds but rather engaging in the formation of child-environment relationships.

Our expert teams work with you to balance our playgrounds and play structures’ commercial and instinctual human benefits. Whether seeking a solution that increases visitor footfall and dwell time or a solution that provides innovative ways to connect visitors to your brand, we leverage years of experience across play theory, natural design and build to ensure everyone has the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences. 

We are inspired by biophilia, the idea that there is an innate human instinct to connect with nature. Therefore, we largely only use natural materials, shapes and designs, and through our structures, we offer opportunities for visitors to play without borders, boundaries or rules. 

Nature, invitation, imagination

With years of experience comes years of learning. In the same way our playgrounds inspire children and develop their skills, we’re constantly focused on improving ourselves.

Our design, manufacture and installation teams are always evolving and today we are a 35+ team with expertise in delivering incredibly high quality playground equipment to a wide variety of entities.

We know how to tailor a project to your specific needs. If you’re a school we know that you need to maximise the play value of your installation and be as effective with your budget as possible. If you’re a retail installation we know that you need to increase dwell time and support parents.

When we work with you, we dive into the detail about your location and specific business needs to make sure the playground we design will support your goals.

Play is an instinctive, natural, and biological impulse. The benefits of play extend beyond enhancing cognitive and physical health and well-being but facilitate a deeper connection with the environment and other people. Play can be seen as a way of experiencing bodily and emotional sensations through interaction with the world.

At Touchwood, we design natural structures that create organic and memorable spots in time. As visitors play, learn and interact with our structures, we aim to create a sense of wonder, awe and reverie in which visitors spend precious time building memories.

Our design is underpinned by our intention to support a cycle which we call “playing naturally” – the biological drive in humans to interact with nature (the biophilia effect) is equally spurred on by our innate impulse to play. What better man-made environment supports this cycle than a Touchwood nature play setting?
No set of rules should govern or control the impulse to play. Rather, we believe that play is a boundless opportunity where people can learn, develop, and connect with nature adaptively and sustainably.

When we work with you to develop and design structures, we strive for more than simply building a playground or play structure. Instead, we create an environment that invites your visitors to explore their natural impulses to play. How we do this should reflect the intention of the surrounding environment, the types of play we wish to inspire, and the length of time visitors can spend engaging in the space.

William’s Den Indoor Play Area

The TouchWood play experts designed and built a bespoke indoor playground with a 25-metre granite installation, complete with cascading stream, pool and a rainmaker to simulate a rain shower. A unique six-metre high Ancient Oak links to a tree house, which incorporates swings, balancing pole branches, bridges and a three-metre slide off a deck down into a sandpit below.

As an indoor playground, some softer woods, such as Hazel and Ash, were integrated into the construction of the play equipment, providing a wide variety of interesting textures and colours in the timber.

From the Tree House to the Forest Glade and the Eagle’s Nest to the Rainmaker, this unique play area has proved to delight and inspire children and adults alike, attracting new and repeat visitors whilst perfectly reflecting the sustainable ethos of the William’s Den brand.

Within a few months of opening, visitor numbers to this exciting play attraction had already exceeded the six-month target of 50,000.

Today, William’s Den has become one of Yorkshire’s most popular family attractions, winning several prestigious awards and regularly attracting highly positive reviews from its customers for the quality and uniqueness of its play equipment.

Find out more about William’s Den here.

Play that engages with your brand

Creating our structures requires us to work closely with you to ensure a close connection to your brand. As we work with you to understand the purpose of your business and the value a playground can provide, we work to meet your needs through suggestive play designs. 

In schools, for example, you may wish to create a structure where safety is prioritised to increase the quality of unsupervised play times. For play structures within leisure attractions, we can increase visitors’ time in an area, whether close to amenities, food stalls or gift shops, to bridge a meal time. For local councils or housing developments, there is often a need for placemaking. We can create play spaces that reflect a specific area so that in residential developments, the spirit and unique character of the surrounding area is reflected in our design. 

By ensuring your needs are met, we can also meet the needs of your visitors, guests and residents that engage with your environment. One example is our work with the National Trust, where dwell times increased, and our structures became the very reason people travelled to a specific site or location. 

Explore how we can increase your footfall here.

Enhancing the visitor experience

Spending time in and around nature improves health and well-being, mental functioning, and emotional balance. With Touchwood, we consider all aspects of the natural settings our clients seek to create play spaces. We strive to reflect and enhance that environment to create positive memories. This may mean integrating play with a route for a play trail or creating a setting that inspires imaginative storytelling. 

Whatever the unique creation, we believe that the modification of any natural space should enhance rather than take away from the setting. For example, in woodland settings, the very nature of logs, bark, leaves and stumps translate into play if we consider the affordance-rich material around us. A simple log pile can inspire building and mastery play, where people develop skills through building, cooperating and creating. They may create a den or refuge or invent fantasy and imagination as ideas evolve in the natural setting. They may create an entire world or ‘small world’ where found materials and imagination combine to create new meanings. Gathering and storing is a play drive that children use to control their world.

Whatever play an affordance-rich environment inspires, it is in nature, combining natural materials and our structures where play is inspired. 

Play all the time, throughout the year

Understanding your year-round needs will ensure that structures can be enjoyed whenever people choose to visit. We embed diversity in the types of activities within our play structures and playgrounds so that there will always be new and engaging ways for visitors to play. Our commitment to prioritising (using only) natural materials means we account for season change as flora grows and wanes. The annual circadian rhythm brings fresh inspiration and invitations for diverse types of play.

Suppose you require structures that incorporate shelter, a route, or simply a place for people to take a reflexive moment to engage with nature. In that case, we can incorporate features that accommodate cross-generational, unsupervised or free-flowing play. Our deep understanding of materials, play and expert design and build teams work to ensure play structures work for your business and visitors, creating unforgettable experiences and memories.

speak with our play experts & create a playground

Our concept design team can quickly help you explore pricing, themes and play value on a call. Our designs are bespoke and no two are the same. Whether you’re a school or a world class leisure park, we can quickly come up with some ideas to support your project.