High-quality design for a Play Barn incorporating Santa's Grotto


Wisbech, Cambridgeshire

A design based around rural barns for a new Play Barn for Worzals Farm Shop in the Wisbech, supporting a low carbon future.


A perfectly designed structure to complement Worzals Farm Shop, showcasing excellent design supporting rural business and tourism.


The intention is that this proposal will build upon, complement and enhance the already successful and prominent attraction. In addition, this proposal will further enhance the economic and social contribution to Wisbech, whilst supporting rural business and tourism. The proposed site at present is currently agricultural land and has natural boundaries comprising of Worzals Farm Shop to the West, hedgerow, drains and the A47 to the East.


Our team of eco design experts created a structure that aims to be multi-functional and service the existing business.   

  • the design picks up on the materialitymassform and barn like structure styling

  • soft landscaping subtly directs people through the site to the main entrance using vistashard landscaping and covered ways

  • sustainable development 

  • recognising and enhancing the intrinsic character of the area 

  • providing high quality design with a good standard of amenity  

  • support a low carbon future, renewable energy generation and mitigating the risk of climate change and flood risk 

  • conserving and enhancing the natural environment 

  • setting the eaves height to suit play equipment

  • roofing steel trapezoidal cladding

  • steel portal frame with masonry walls with timber cladding externally

  • inclusive access throughout

The full story

Worzals Farm Shop is situated on Lynn Road, Wisbech, this Farm shop has proved to be successful over the years, rapidly expanding to include alterations and additions comprising polytunnels, patios, outdoor play area, garden centre growth, creation and extension of a restaurant and extension to the front of the garden centre to improve the front elevation.

In addition, Worzals Farm Shop’s offering comprises of a farm shop, deli, butchers and homeware. With this growing service, the client, SPI Global Play came to Swann Edwards Architecture for the erection of a play barn with seating for up to 200 people, party rooms, ancillary accommodation, café, ice cream parlour, sweet shop, Santa’s Grotto and a small amount of retail. Our job is therefore to help ensure the continued success and positive impact of Worzals on the local area.

The site itself benefits from being located within an area of established commercial premises and is on one of the main routes in and out of Wisbech – the area itself is one of rural in style. In addition, the site benefits from being a short driving distance from the towns of King’s Lynn and March and the cities of Ely and Peterborough.

Creating a high-spec development to an existing successful business

The intention is to provide a high-quality development that will contribute and enhance the existing street scene along one of the main routes in to Wisbech.  

This is a rural area of Wisbech and is characterised by utilitarian industrial type buildings primarily of simple form with some nearby residential properties located more than 160m away. Worzals’ itself has the feel of a high-class rustic building and the approved extensions will enhance this and further improve its visual appearance.  

The proposed building has the form and massing of a contemporary barn and given the sites rural location we consider this to be the most appropriate form of development for this site. The external appearance of the proposed development has been informed by the underlying design ethos and analysis of the architectural styles, rhythm and development pattern of the area and site.   

As part of our design approach we have sought to break down the mass and impact of the play barn and associated accommodation. We have achieved this by setting the eaves height required for the play equipment (similar to that of a hay barn) the use of lanterns and the roof pitch as well as the single storey lean-to providing accommodation for Santa’s Grotto, retail area and covered ways. The result is a proportionally correct building, which achieves the accommodation requirements whilst reducing the impact of the building as far as possible. 

Internally, the client, SPI global have confirmed that the play area within the play barn comprises a third of the floor area, with the next third being set aside for seating and the remaining floor area for ancillary accommodation (WC, baby and parent rooms), party rooms, food outlets. This approach informed the design and allows for seating for up to 200 people and three-party rooms. In addition, the proposal comprises of a Santa’s Grotto experience which follows a storey as you move through and wraps around the play barn along with a small amount of retail space. This approach complements the proposed barn use and the existing site use (which already very successfully sells Christmas trees) and ensures that the building is proportionally correct.

As mentioned earlier, the height of the proposed barn like structure is required in order to accommodate three levels of play equipment and slides. As such we used 8m height to the haunch of the steel at the eaves to accommodate the play equipment. The selected roof pitch and lean-to roof wrapping around the building create a proportionally correct building, whilst reducing the impact of the building as far as possible. In addition, the 3D visuals demonstrate that the barn approach of the building is in keeping with the area and compliments the existing Worzals development.

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