Stimulating play area designed for Starlight Children’s Unit, Wythenshawe Hospital


The Starlight Children’s Unit at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT) is a child-friendly centre designed specifically to help young patients feel welcome.

Massey & Harris was approached by Wythenshawe Hospital as the existing outside play area required refurbishment.

They wanted help and guidance in creating a playful, stimulating environment attached to the children’s ward where children and their guardians could go to ‘escape’, rest and play.

The play area itself is surrounded by wards so access was very restricted. Additionally, this is an environment for sick children and their worried friends and family so we needed to respectfully and quietly go about our business in refurbing the play area.



As Wythenshawe Hospital is local to the Massey & Harris Stockport workshop, advice and the supply of refurbished play equipment was offered free of charge. The hospital were delighted to accept the environmentally-friendly solution.

However, after talking through the scheme, they asked for a full redesign to incorporate the free-of-charge play equipment.

Due to site access restrictions, the majority of the play equipment and materials had to be craned in to allow for installation of the new equipment and refurbishment of the old.

The area was divided into two zones with artificial grass and rubber safety surfacing.

The scheme includes a storyteller’s chair with mushroom seats, a play house with a sedum roof, circular picnic table, wooden loungers and talking tubes, a boat-themed multiplay unit with a stainless steel slide, a wheelchair accessible roundabout, ball shooter, interactive play panels and reactions sports wall and art play panels.

New fencing with timber infill was installed giving a softer feel to the environment.


The play area was transformed into a bright, stimulating, fun place for children and adults to take time out with areas to rest, a variety of physically and mentally stimulating play equipment, and a corner for story time.


Find out more about the elements in this play design below.



Seesaws and springers