Midlands & East Anglia, Premier Construction

Youngsters flock to park’s new star attraction

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Hootz House play barn, Pensthorpe Natural Park, Norfolk

Providing an adventure star attraction for children, construction the new Hootz House play barn at Pensthorpe Natural Park in Norfolk, has recently been completed.

Hootz House was constructed by Bunting & Son and designed by Adam Khan Architects. The fit out was carried out in a separate scheme by other contractors.

Set in the heart of the Norfolk countryside, in the Wensum Valley, Pensthorpe Natural Park is an award-winning mix of nature trails, woodland walks, and a showcase for British wildlife and nature conservation.

With an internal area of 450 sq m, Hootz House is complete with rope bridges, tree towers,  ladders, nets, tunnels and winding slides and also includes a cafe serving snacks, plus The Owlets Zone, created for the under-fives and including soft play farm animals and a corn shower.

Thought to be the first of its kind in the East of England, Hootz House ties in with WildRootz – Pensthorpe’s outdoor adventure play area that opened in 2013.

Hootz the owl from WildRootz is hoping to inspire children to switch onto wildlife and adventure play instead of technology, providing fun facts about species of the natural world.

Located inconspicuously behind WildRootz, constructed on a previously empty site and measuring 31m by 16m, the two storey building is structured around a steel frame, with thick insulated wooden walls and English cedar cladding externally, incorporating large windows and a pitched composite cement roof. A distinctive feature of the design is the building’s automatically opening roof lights, which are used to regulate temperature.

Internally, the walls are clad with mirrored stainless steel sheets on the ground floor and soundproof cladding on the second floor, up to roof level.

The works also included the installation of a catering kitchen and male, female and disabled toilets on the ground floor, and an upstairs cafe, viewing gallery and play room which can be hired for private events.

The building includes a number of green credentials including the installation of a lake source heat pump providing a sustainable heating solution, the use of sustainably sourced wood for 90% of the build, the installation of environmentally friendly sound proofing, as well as water saving features in the toilets.

“The project went well and was all pretty much plain sailing,” said Daryl Bunting of Bunting & Son.

Pensthorpe Natural Park owners Deb and Bill Jordan are excited to see their vision of creating an indoor adventure come to life. Deb explains, “Pensthorpe is like an amazing and extremely fascinating giant outside classroom! Our aim has been to roll education, play and family enjoyment into one big exciting day out, ensuring the next generations of Packhams and Attenboroughs have all the necessary tools to expand their love and knowledge of the natural world.”

The project was completed in June and the new play barn is proving a star attraction. Bunting and Son are still on site at Pensthorpe Natural Park however – this time working adjacent to the play barn on a new project to renovate a row of cottages to provide offices and spa treatment rooms.

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