So, why is thisÂ particularÂ play structureÂ differentÂ to the pile of pallets your dad nailed up in the apple tree at the end of the garden?Â
It’s actually pretty clever. Monkey-Do say “WeÂ specialise in temporary, risky play installations in trees, using rope swings, industrial safety nets and soft webbing attachments which leave the trees exactly as we found them.” In this instance, it’s not really a temporaryÂ structure, more of a semi-permanentÂ one. However, as a tree is a living thing, it will grow and change. One of the big problems with tree houses in general is that they don’t last very well – trees have a habit of growing around the fittings, and that doesn’t do the tree any good nor does it make it easy to keep the house in one bit for very long.
This one is not like that. Monkey-Do have a complicated non-invasive adjustment system that keeps the tree-house safely in place, but allowsÂ regularÂ readjustment so the structure can remain in the rightÂ alignmentÂ with the minimum damage to the tree. You can see some pictures of how it works here. One of the problems with this is that the tree-house involves quite a bit of engineering which is vulnerable to interference (and they’ve already had some of it) Â – I’m veryÂ encouragedÂ that they have installed such a structure in a public place, but I’m not sure I’d have to courage to do so myself – a lot of inspections and skilled intervention are going to be required to keep this tree-house in top condition.
The other clever thing is the design of the play experience. In a relatively small space a structure has been created that canÂ accommodateÂ a very wide range of abilities and levels of agility. The lowest platform is only just off the ground, but a littleÂ furtherÂ up andÂ there is an impressively long fireman’s pole to slide down, and up high (and securelyÂ surroundedÂ by a chain curtain) great views from the treetop vantage point. Children starting on the easy platform will doubtless aspire to climb up higher, and gain the rewards of doing so. Nicely done, Monkeys.