“Budget is no barrier to creativity”
Fleetwood was appointed as Lead Contractor by Maribyrnong City Council following an open Play tender at Pipemaker’s Park, near Flemington racecourse and the Maribyrnong River in Melbourne. The brief was to create a custom sculptural nature play structure that would fit within the rich heritage of the wider eight-hectare public reserve. Creatively, the Council wanted something exciting and unique to inspire the local community. The catch was the limited budget. This presented a fantastic challenge. Thanks to some super-smart design thinking, great collaboration and a lot of hard work, we were able to deliver on all counts. While the play structure itself is entirely bespoke – including a custom rock-climbing wall and swings – Pipemaker’s Park was also a great example of using custom and catalogue play items together. In addition to the main play structure, we also helped to procure a number of proprietary play items including swings, sand table, spinners and a Pulgi self-build cubby.
Scope of Work
Discover, Develop, Detail, Deliver
Pipemaker’s Park was a little different to many tenders. Maribyrnong City Council was very invested in the space and had an idea of what they wanted for their new play structure. Prior to concept submission, Council met with select tenderers to discuss their vision and budget. Following this session, we developed our response including two concepts with sketches, 3D renders and more detailed designs, and we were ultimately chosen as the Lead Contractor. Once appointed, we worked closely with the Council’s landscape architects to finalise the preferred designs, before moving into detailing. The project schedule worked in our favour, as the playground tender happened before the landscape tender, which often isn’t the case. This gave the design teams ample time to collaborate and also meant the final design actually influenced the landscaping and plantings. By the end of the project – and guided by our full DesignExecute2™ delivery process – we had designed, fabricated and installed the fully-custom play structure, complemented with a number of smaller catalogue items.
Maribyrnong City Council sought community input and feedback during the early design stages to help shape the final concept for the new park.
Creatively, two very different cultural overlays had to be captured in the design. The first was the Indigenous history of the land’s traditional owners, the Wurundjeri people. The second was the 140-year industrial heritage of the site, most notably the old Hume’s Pipes factory which inspired the park’s name. Combining these was tricky, but essential to ensure a meaningful connection for visitors to the space. Maribyrnong City Council’s landscape architects created a suite of wayfinding signage throughout the park, coupled with timber panels on the play structure, featuring engravings and artworks. The play structure itself tells the story of the original pipe factory, with its form mimicking the shape of the pipes. At a structural level, the main challenge was the design of the footings. Many meetings were required between the engineering and design teams to deliver a resolution that was safe and solidly built, yet sat lightly within the landscape. Council was also very keen for the design to blend seamlessly into the local habitat, allowing children to experience and explore the surrounding tree canopy.
With several natural obstacles to work around on the site, one of the main construction challenges was identifying the most effective ways to install the hero play structure. For example, as early as the design phase we recommended moving the layout and orientation of the play structure so it wouldn’t encroach on the existing tree roots. During installation, we also had to carefully plan the way the boom and crane were set up to ensure the surrounding tree canopies and local flora was protected.
With the site presenting a rich variety of play opportunities, we wanted make the very most of the available space so nothing was wasted. One example was the addition of a custom climbing log between the two towers, allowing kids to feel as if they were high up in the surrounding tree canopy. At a delivery level, we also chose to pre-assemble the majority of the play structure off-site, allowing for a fast and seamless install with minimum disruption to other contractors working simultaneously on other elements within the eight-hectare site.
- Climbing towers
- Rock Climbing Wall
- Climbing log
- Spotted Gum
- Hardwood Cladding
- Web net mesh
- Galvanised steel
- Engraved timber
We had to be very mindful of hazards created by the site’s established tree canopies and root zones. This required quite a bit of refinement to the design to ensure the footings didn’t interrupt the tree roots. As always, play compliance was also very important in order to minimise the potential for injuries to children as they enjoyed the space.
During installation, considerable care had to be taken to ensure we didn’t damage the park’s existing vegetation. This was managed with daily briefings, roping off sensitive sections of the site, and making sure the installation team always knew what they could – and couldn’t – go near.
Pipemaker’s Park sits along the high-use Maribyrnong Trail. It gets a huge amount of use each year, so the Council wanted to revamp the space so it would attract more families and visitors to learn about its rich history. The play structure tells a story and there are new experiences to explore and discover at every turn.
The hero play structure adds a much-loved family element to the other features at Pipemaker’s Park that include an eco-garden and Living History Museum. It has quickly become a major community drawcard – it’s even been talked about up to 50km away! All the kids want to have their birthday party there and it’s opened up this area of history to the kids to learn about and develop their skills.
Fleetwood are interested in growing and stretching with the process. I would say that is because of their people, collaborative practices and the pursuit of better outcomes for all ages.
Jennifer Kelynack Senior Landscape Architect
Maribyrnong City Council
“The guys on the ground knew what they were doing, and as far as safety goes, anything we asked them, they did. The quality of finish & getting it delivered on time were critical parts of the project and the client is very happy with the results."
Lionel Desmond Project Manager
Fleetwood’s attention to detail, the service they provideand the working relationship we have with their teammade this project enjoyable. Their acknowledgement oflandscape architects in their work and how they service usis unique in this industry.
Mark Santangelo Senior Landscape Architect & Team Leader, Distinctive Living Design
Great design is what sets Fleetwood apart and they delivered on all their commitments throughout the project
Belinda Ryan Development Manager, Mirvac
Great communication, quick responses that are clear, open about pricing.
Wally Adams Estimator