At TouchWood, we are passionate about play. Our mission is to create amazing, unique play experiences where kids can use their imagination to have their own adventures, in a safe, stimulating, natural setting.
TouchWood was founded in 2002 on the fundamental idea that play is an essential part of childhood. And when we say “play”, we really mean it – not structured, supervised, managed play – we mean old-school outdoor imaginative play, with mud pies, battles, hiding, stick bashing, war cries, pretending, listening, touching, experimenting, building, feeling, smelling.
Everything we create is unique, and crafted from locally-sourced durable woods like larch, chestnut and oak, so they look beautiful and blend seamlessly with their natural landscape or provide a hint of woodland magic to more urban locations.
TouchWood’s Founder, Joe Cooper, says: “Each project is unique, that’s what makes them such a joy to work on. Play is so important. I’m a firm believer in the importance of creating natural playgrounds where modern children can learn to understand what it means to take risks. But I’m also passionate about creating beautiful environments that complement their surroundings and that parents, grand-parents and carers want to spend time in too.”
TouchWood is one of very few companies that source and process the raw materials; then design, manufacture, install and maintain our play equipment. Our difference is the care and value we give to each piece of timber that goes into your play feature. Selecting a specific branch that will create an archway over a slide, or choosing a particular trunk that will be crafted into the perfect hollow log for your site.
We help you tailor the level of community engagement you want in the creation of your playground – so whether it’s a simple telephone conversation or right the way through to a 5-day design and build workshop with community groups, we’re there every step of the way. We’re experts in all things play and will support you with everything from inspiring ideas to installation and long-term care and maintenance.
We recognise that unique communities need their own unique play landscapes.
We recognise that unique communities need their own unique play landscapes. Whether you are a small rural school, or a large destination play centre, our design process matches the ambitions of your community with your budget, your unique environment, and your vision for play. We actively involve all of our clients in the creation of our playgrounds – from those clients who just want a simple telephone conversation about what they hope to achieve, to Designing for Real Days with National Trust volunteers, all the way through to 5-day design and build workshops with community groups – we have a design solution that we can tailor to the level of community engagement that you want.
Children don’t need to be taught how to play, merely given the opportunity and permission to play in a rich and diverse environment.
Children don’t need to be taught how to play, merely given the opportunity and permission to play in a rich and diverse environment. Our play landscapes seek to offer children lots of invitations for play, and the freedom to move between activities as and when they want to.
Our play areas are designed to be accessible for adults as well as children, encouraging cross-generational play. Even though we offer opportunities for a broad range of play values - like climbing, scrambling, balancing and swinging - our installations are defined by the way that they trigger the imaginations of the players.
The natural twisting forms of our raw materials and the clever subtlety of narrative in our designs, enable children to play out their dreams – whether that’s climbing inside giant trees or dancing in the rain!
In addition to the playful aesthetic that wood presents, wood is also the sustainable choice for a building material.
In addition to the playful aesthetic that wood presents, it is also the sustainable choice for a building material. Wood locks up carbon, buying wood brings income to local land owners, and old wood is easy to recycle. Children are fascinated by the lifecycle of trees, and we are always seeking to widen children’s understanding of the importance of building with trees through assembly presentations and hands-on workshops.
Yes, we’re green as can be! From sustainable sourcing to educating kids about their environmental impact. There are plenty of opportunities for people of all ages to get hands-on with us too, through design days and sustainable carpentry workshops.
Our dedicated team of craftsmen are committed to looking after our play areas and ensuring that they last as long as possible and continue to be enjoyed for years to come.
How the service works:
We will come to your play area and carry out a detailed survey of all the items that we installed. Any low level maintenance tasks like minor repairs on timber, sanding timber, replacing plugs, tightening ropes and replacing fixings will be undertaken during the time allocated for this visit.
This survey will be documented and sent to you for your records, and should there be any need for further maintenance (in rare instances, there are more low level maintenance tasks that can be completed in the allotted time), replacement or repair, we will provide you with a further quote.
We recommend that you time our visit so that any further repairs can be completed before your annual play inspection.
The heart of our business is at our woodyard on the outskirts of Bristol. Originally part of the Ashton Court Estate - our offices and workshops are in the barns that once serviced the 18th century mansion.
At TouchWood Play, we believe that we have a responsibility to create designed spaces where children get the opportunity to experience risk and adventure. If you are commissioning a play area, cast your mind back to your upbringing, and like us, I am sure that you recall learning some of the most important lessons through taking risks.
How did you ever discover how far you could jump without trying it? How focussed was your mind when you felt there was a risk of falling if you didn’t make it?
How did you learn to master lifting your own bodyweight, then moving like a monkey from one place to another? How did you learn about the heat of fire and the slipperiness of ice?
There are not many places left in a child’s world where they can experience life’s challenges and try again and again to master them. A TouchWood playground is one of those places, and the challenges are relevant to all ages and abilities.
Our play areas are places where everyone can freely choose activities, watch others, then learn to copy them and engage with some of the natural materials that make up our world.
We are always on the look-out for like-minded people to join our team. We offer a supportive, collaborative, working environment, where creativity is nurtured and ideas always explored. Our team is friendly and spirited, and with the variety of projects and clients, no two days are the same.
If you share our passion for play and think you can contribute to our team - perhaps as a designer, carpenter, site foreman or landscaper, please do get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us what you’d bring.