Falkirk Wheel Water Play – A Year of Coasts and Waters Case Study

Submitted by HarrisonStevens

Client – Scottish Canals

This interactive multi-functional water play space is set in the grounds of the iconic Falkirk Wheel. The play spaces are designed to celebrate the history, geography and role of Scotland’s canals.

The water play zone has two pools, one of which includes an interpretation of Scotland in Granite Stone units which features a giant map with the country’s five canals represented in stainless steel play elements.

Visitors can play in hydrozorbs (large inflatable balls) and water dodgems on the larger of the two pools. The smaller of the pools features a gently sloped beach edge so people of all ages can paddle in the shallow water. Visitors are also able to steer model boats from the water’s edge or from on top of the map of Scotland, manoeuvring their craft through the miniature canals complete with model lock gates and a rotating bucket wheel representing The Falkirk Wheel. As well as exploring where the five canals flow and how they and The Falkirk Wheel work in context, children can clamber over the map, discovering the peaks and valleys of Scotland, the geographical fault lines and cities and major settlements.

The design works with the existing topography to minimise material movement and extent of excavations, it allows users to access the facilities throughout the year with ease of access for all ages and physical abilities, encouraging varied and active play with adventure, education and exploration.

This play element sits adjacent to the Cargo Yard, a recent development of integrated retail and café outlets to serve the many visitors to the Falkirk Wheel, water play spaces and the wider canal network.

A microcosm of Scottish Canals celebration.

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