Welcome to Amazonia

Bolton’s Amazing New Underground Jungle Play
World

Welcome to Amazonia

Gaze casually across at Bolton’s Market Place Shopping Centre near  Manchester in the North of England and you may be excused for being  somewhat sceptical about what lies lurking beneath its mega mix of  stores, restaurants and retail outlets...

In 2016, eibe Play unveiled one of its most fascinating ventures in recent years; Amazonia is a magical, kaleidoscopic underground world of fun featuring the bespoke adventure course, as well as a train ride and crazy golf. Since its official opening in the summer, it has been packed with happy children every day. There is a more advanced recreational one for 4 – 14 year olds, alongside a mini play frame for the very young. Parents can chill out and watch on from The Jungle Café, a relaxing haven for a welcome drink and a bite to eat, as their intrepid little explorers ramble through the ‘Amazon’, discovering and making friends.“It’s astonishing that such a phenomenally different playspace exists underneath a shopping mall where deliveries used to be made,” comments eibe UK’s managing director, Paul Redden, “The before and after pictures are a great chronology of the transformation. The thought involved in the conversion is remarkable; the use of space is brilliantly clever. It is, without doubt, one of our most inventive, aesthetically pleasing schemes that we have completed.”

Plans for the regeneration originally began in 2015 and everyone knew from the very outset it would be a unique challenge. Construction and logistics were design imperatives, so the company’s creative team began plotting an imaginative solution to the client’s bold requests. Working in conjunction with Martin Wragge, owner of Inception Holdings Sarl and Wren Architects, the eibe team were in constant liaison with all the key stakeholders for the duration of the £200,000 project. Consistentlyshifting around design ideas meant an ongoing dialogue was essential explains eibe’s design director, David Hibberd,

“We always complete a project on time, so despite the numerous changes that were made throughout the creative concept, we were mindful of every deadline. We had originally mulled over an industrial theme, but the Amazonian Jungle idea emerged gradually over a period of time. We wanted to balance practicality with adventure, ensuring we utilised the space to maximise the fun. Long hours of differing drafts led to evenings of both exasperation and enlightenment. There were a host of twist and turns before we perfected the design. The many midnight adjustments were worth it in the end!”

Installation was the next hurdle to overcome. Access, height restrictions and health and safety were all of paramount importance, but eibe’s experienced team of installers were confident from the very outset that everything would go to plan. Having worked with big tourist attractions such as LEGOLAND, Kew Gardens and Paultons Park, eibe has the knowhow and technical expertise to fulfil the evolving and fast changing demands of its broad portfolio of clients. The challenges at Amazonia wereas tough as any the firm have previously encountered, but the outcome is genuinely astonishing and does fit into the ‘Wow Category’. Fans of Doctor Who will appreciate the ‘Tardis’ element, with an extraordinary surprise emanating from what appears to be a very enclosed space.

Accessed via the refurbished Victorian vaults in the basement of the centre, Amazonia will serve as an entertainment venue for children of all ages, from toddlers to teens. eibe’s tailored play equipment looks stunning; merge in the realistic sounds of forest animals and you could be mistaken for feeling you’re in deepest South America on a Brazilian expedition.

Climbing, balancing, jumping, swinging, sliding – the play value here is incredible. Add to this a ride aboard the Jungle Express train, which meanders through the underground network of perfect play, and you really have a destination park for the future. In terms of specified equipment, eibe installed a huge, bespoke climbing unit from its “Unique” range. It incorporates multi-towers and climbing nets with themed graphics throughout; the variety of play elements mean that visitors are entertained for hours, as opposed to boredom setting in after a few minutes. The accompanying wetpour safety surfacing complements the zone superbly and the cosmetic effect is quite beautiful.

All of eibe’s play equipment is manufactured from high quality, sustainable materials and the business’ Corporate Social Responsibility ethos has been recognised with a series of high profile awards. Having won accolades for their regeneration of London’s East End playgrounds and then the Grandfather Oak scheme at Dalby Forest in Yorkshire in 2015, eibe won Gold for the Pontypridd Lido Project this year and were crowned Green World Ambassadors for 2016, a ceremony held at the historic Houses of Parliament in November.

"Corporate Social Responsibility is an integral part of our Complete Inspiration pledge. We are proud of our burgeoning reputation and environmental strategy, adds Redden, “It is something that can often be adeciding factor when a potential client chooses a supplier, as partnering with a business with similar beliefs can mean a more seamless production process. We will continue to invest in our own green philosophy, as recognition at these prestigious awards makes it all worthwhile.”

eibe is also FSC® 100% certified - guaranteeing to use only wood which comes from FSC® certified forests. Whether it is a product manufactured from larch, beech or robinia, eibe manufactures sustainable equipment that is also imaginative, well-crafted, safe, educational and, above all, great fun! That is what Amazonia is all about.

Nikki Wilson-Cook, Market Place manager, says the end result is more than she could ever have hoped for when the initial plans came out last year, “The detail in this place is amazing; the kids who are coming in are astounded. This is all about having that entertainment and leisure offer forpeople coming to the centre. People want to have a whole day out now and we hope this will help them do that.” Amazonia manager, Jonathan Davis, added: “I have worked all over and I have never seen a centre like this — it has got everything and we hope people will really enjoy it.”

 

Text & photo: eibe Produktion & Vertrieb GmbH & Co.KG

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