The WILD PLAY garden provides a unique play space in a natural environment that encourages imagination, adventure and fun. The spaces provide a range of opportunities for exploration and creative play, which are not commonly found in urban playgrounds – meaning children and carers can feel like they are in another world.
The challenge with this project was that the garden uses complex timberwork that required master craftsmanship and had to be carried out to a very tight construction schedule on a relatively small site alongside other tradespeople. We also had to create a rough, natural look that is durable, sturdy and safe for children yet encourage safe play and exploration in a structure that has not been built before.
Our partners, ASPECT Studios, wanted to create an immersive environment using a simple design and materials. Inspired by the fig trees and parklands which surround this space, they created the concept for the WILD PLAY Garden – a destination location that would allow local children to explore, experiment, socialise and learn through play. The focus of our discovery sessions with ASPECT Studios was to understand the inspiration behind their concept, so it could be transformed into a great experience for local families.
We studied the sketch ideas and designs from ASPECT Studios, provided feedback and put forward possible suggestions. Our Design-Led Engineers then took the concept to the next level, where we assessed the practicality of the design, and recommended materials and finishes. Working closely with the landscape architects and Centennial Parklands, we held a series of meetings to develop our 3D drawings into a finalised visual with an accurate construction budget and a full list of materials. At this stage, we also focused on safety to ensure that the playground was suitable for children without compromising its rough natural look.
Using our conceptual models, we made engineering drawings to get accurate member sizes, connections and fastening requirements. At this stage, we also finalised levels and loading information.
Many of the project components, such as the play tower and platforms, were pre-assembled in-house by our highly skilled carpentry teams. We also assembled the complex roof structure and platforms prior to delivering to the site. Our on-site crews worked with other teams and were able to install the play garden with minimal impact on surrounding works. We were also responsible for the supply and installation of several surrounding features, including the eel structure.
A swinging bridge leads to a little rest nook, before going on to the challenging log with carved steps which leads to the beautiful ‘nest’ at the top of the play structure.
This magical garden is delivering a great experience for local people because we were able to discover, design and build the play area in close collaboration with the team at ASPECT studios. Their vision set the direction of the project, and our expertise guided the project through to a spectacular outcome, creating a special landmark for users of the park and Sydneysiders. This is ultimately our goal when working with all our partners: we want to deliver what’s best for the community while making sure we stay true to our partners’ original ideal or vision.
The slide is custom manufactured by a manufacturer exclusive to Fleetwood.
This is the ‘Eel’ – created from Australian Class 1 Hardwood. The ‘Eel’ is made of an arrangement of Hardwood shaped (when viewed from above) as the skeletel structure of an Eel. It is used as a ‘balancing challenge’ for kids to play on and fits in very well into the natural play space.
Some parts of the structure have the added protection of mesh, that has been placed and chosen strategically so as to not impede the view of either parents (below) or kids (in the structure), whilst also ensuring all safety aspects and Australian Standards are met.
You can see here the ‘Pulgi’ that the children built over the top of the end of the slide.
Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust
Parks and Leisure Australia's NSW and ACT regional awards of excellence (2018) | Good Design Award for Urban Design at the 60th Good Design Australia awards (2018) | City_Brand and Landscape Award: City Play (2018) | AILA NSW Play Spaces Award of Excellence (2018)