Expanding horizons for playtime innovators

A business that specialises in creating innovative outdoor play areas for children is expanding its horizons with international projects on the drawing board.

Cool Canvas is the brainchild of Oliver Wotherspoon. The natural landscapes its 10-strong team design and build stimulate both learning and play.

And it is about to start work on its first African project – creating a play area for a school in Uganda.

The growing Bolton-based company has just delivered an outdoor play area in Belgium and is looking for more opportunities in Europe.

From ‘Hobbit holes’ to mud kitchens, each play area it creates is bespoke and open ended.

The company works with nurseries, schools and community groups and provides a range of packages to suit all budgets, all built using natural materials.

It is also finding increasing interest in its work from private clients looking to create something special in their family garden – including ‘luxury’ tree houses.

WNJ has been advising and assisting Oliver on his business growth plans for a number of years.

Cool Canvas’ work has been showcased on television, appearing on celebrity gardener Alan Titchmarsh’s Love Your Garden on ITV and George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces on Channel 4.

Oliver says: “We’re working on projects across the country and we’re very excited about going to work in East Africa and the opportunities that will bring.

“We will be working to create a really special play area for a school on the outskirts of the Ugandan capital Kampala.”

He explains the ethos behind the growing company. He says: “Each project is designed around the needs and aspirations of the children.

“We can create areas that allow them to climb and run and crawl, make dens, enjoy water play and grow stuff.

“The aim is to enhance children’s learning opportunities through outdoor play. And each area we design and develop is bespoke.”

Oliver adds: “We do a lot of work with schools and community groups, but we’re also finding that families want the outdoor experiences we create.

“We’re seeing a rise in our private work, making tree houses, dens and forts in gardens; creating magical worlds at the bottom of the garden.

We create natural environments so children and families can make creative use of the resources around them that stimulates both learning and play. We provide a range of packages to suit all budgets.”

For more details about Cool Canvas please visit www.naturalplayareas.co.uk

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