Attractions industry news

19 Feb 2018

UK's longest treetop walkway wins planning permission

Architects Cullinan Studio and multidisciplinary firm Arup have received planning permission for the UK’s longest aerial walkway: a 400m-long (1,312ft) ribbon “floating through the treetops” of the Conkers visitor attraction in Leicestershire.

The sinuous attraction – composed of a galvanised steel structure – narrows and widens at different points, creating passing places and observation points overlooking the forest below. Three timber-clad treehouses, or eyries, feature along the walkway, providing event and educational spaces for over 40 people.

Cullinan’s design also features weathered steel fins and non-slip galvanised steel decking formed in a triangular pattern to accommodate the double curved geometry of the walkway. The plans were developed by the practice using in-house virtual reality technology, which allowed them to “explore the journey in a cinematic way to create a compelling experience.”

According to a design statement, "the Aerial Walkway improves connectivity between two areas of the award-winning Conkers visitor attraction that are separated by the Ivanhoe Mineral Railway line. An earth rampart at one end of the walkway connects with existing paths and forms an amphitheatre next to the lakeside that can be used for a wide variety of events, such as storytelling sessions."

The project is one of several proposed by Cullinan in a masterplan for the site called ‘Heart of the Forest’, first developed over a decade ago. A lookout tower, woodcraft workshops, forest lodges, a lake and a boathouse, extensive tree planting and forest walks are all planned.

Currently, the UK’s longest aerial walkway is the twisting, 300m (984ft) STIHL Treetop Walkway in Gloucestershire’s National Arboretum at Westonbirt. The structure, designed by Glenn Howells Architects and engineered by Buro Happold, opened in April 2016.

Internationally, dramatic aerial walkways are being developed for the Camp Adventure park in Gisselfeld Klosters Skove, Denmark, and the Mandai nature and wildlife park near Singapore Zoo.

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