[MDA2013]

2013 Melbourne Design Awards

Pod Playground [DRAFT]

Project Overview

Australia has a new National Arboretum. Located in Canberra, this important cultural facility is host to 100 forests of rare and endangered trees from around the world. This legacy project with important environmental and conservation messages will live beyond our lifetimes.

The opportunity to design a play space as part of the 100 forests facility offered an opportunity to creatively engage children with the beauty of trees and we hope, foster a life-long connection to this remarkable environment.

Using the idea of seeds as the beginning life amongst the forest, children and their families can enter a fantasy world of exaggerated scales. A play space with giant acorns floating in the sky, and enormous banksia cones nestled on the forest floor.

The play space takes inspiration from a cork oak forest within the Arboretum and has catapulted their acorns from their forest floor to land atop of a hill, somewhat larger, taking on anthropomorphic qualities.

The toddler play area draws inspiration from our weird and wonderful native flora. Banksia seed pods with banksia seed 'lips' attached to the external forms, inviting children’s curiosity to these strange looking creatures.

Project Commissioner

ACT Government

Project Creator

as noted below

Team

CLIENT:
ACT Government

DESIGN LEAD:
Taylor Cullity Lethlean

ACORN SCULPTOR/FABRICATORS:
Agency of Sculpture

BANKSIA, ENTRY ARBOUR AND SHADE STRUCTURE
ARTIST/FABRICATORS:
Big Fish

PLAY FABRICATORS:
Kaebel Leisure and Play Evolution

INTERPRETATIVE DESIGN:
Arterial

IRRIGATION DESIGN:
Goodfellow and Associates

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER:
Kersulting and Don Moore

HYDRAULICS:
Cardno Young

LANDSCAPE CONTRACTOR:
Design Landscapes

SUPERINTENDENT:
Harris Hobbs

Project Brief

The playground aims to pursue wonder, imagination and enchantment. It was designed to encourage flexibility and spontaneity in play.

The play space challenges the conventional idea of play environments and demonstrates how a play destination can not only meet stringent play standards yet offer a unique play experience for all.

Project Need

The process for designing the playspace took two years. The design was collaborative, lead by TCL the design team included interpretation consultants, artist/fabrictors and sculptors, a play auditor, civil engineers, soil and irrigation consultant.

Play suppliers challenged their own products, helping to create customised play items that took their cues from earthy colours and obscure shapes rather than conventional brightly coloured items.

The playspace questions the use of standard materials within a playground, pea gravel was favoured over rubber softfall (rubber softfall has been used to create paths for DDA access to and from play items), timber and bamboo took precedence over brightly coloured
plastic play objects.

Colours were kept to earthy tones, evoking autumn tones and allowing a sensory experience through smell, texture, form and feel. All
plant species are native except for one acorn bearing oak tree, growing to perform its role as the ‘story telling tree’.

Rock boulders, soil, mulch and pebble swales encourage children to get dirty, to interact with their environment and return to their home
environment feeling rejuvenated from messy play.

Design Challenge

Six acorn tree houses, six banksia cubby houses, a large custom designed fishing net, swings and planting beds form an intrinsic
learning experience to children aged 0 – 12 years of age.

The playground aims to pursue wonder, imagination and enchantment. It was designed to encourage flexibility and spontaneity in play.

The play space challenges the conventional idea of play environments and demonstrates how a play destination can not only meet stringent play standards yet offer a unique play experience for all.

The role of play within our current society is a subject heavily absorbed in sociogical, psychological and educational discourse. Richard Louv and his book ‘last child in the woods’ draws on key concerns of children and their susceptibility to natural deficit disorder. He raises concerns of children’s lack of interaction with nature, flora, fauna and the elements, particularly within a city context. He notes that the role of the outdoors needs to challenge the ever developing computer gaming technology. Our over dependent connection with the digital world emphasises these concerns.

Sustainability

The design recognises that play is a vital social development and educational tool for children of all ages, and is particularly important when it assists in forming relationships to its landscape, climate and surrounding context. The world amongst the giant seeds aims to stimulate spontaneity and creativity, to foster the imagination and to challenge and encourage confidence with growth.

The playspace is located within the arboretum, a 250 hectare site of 100 forests. Children are encouraged to start their exploration at
the playspace, to take note of the seasonal change within the forests that surround them and to form a connection with the arboretum.

The playspace is positioned at the top of the central valley, providing grand views out to surrounding forests. One of the highest acorns situated 5 metres above the ground level houses three kaleidoscopes, inviting children to look through the marbled glass and then beyond to the broader site. The children are encouraged to observe the ongoing growing event of the Arboretum as a setting of rare and remarkable trees from around the world, forming ownership of their local environment.


Tags



This award celebrates creativity and innovation in the process of designing and shaping cities, towns and villages, and is about making connections between people and places, movement and urban form, nature and the built fabric. Consideration given to giving form, shape and character to groups of buildings, streets and public spaces, transport systems, services and amenities, whole neighbourhoods and districts, and entire cities, to make urban areas functional, attractive and sustainable.

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