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Interview with Gavin Menzies on Grove Road Reserve

Natural aesthetic design inspired by legacy treehouse playground

Working closely with Hume City Council Landscape Architects, adventure+ designed the playground at Grove Road Reserve to complement its surrounding environment.

We interviewed Gavin Menzies, the senior landscape architect involved in the project to find out the thought behind the space. Read on to learn more!

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A+. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your current role/job?

GM. I’ve worked much of my career for local government in Victoria and joined Hume City Council in 2021. Hume has been an especially rewarding experience for me being closer to home than past roles.

This has given me real opportunities to contribute to the communities, parks, trails and open spaces I inhabit outside of work hours. Hours that typically involve dogs, cycling and the perennial favourite of finding a new coffee spot.

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A+.What were the key outcomes you wanted out of the project, and did you achieve them?

GM. The park is known to locals as Treehouse Park due to a circular grove of established eucalypts surrounding the play space and a, now removed, elevated timber viewing platform.

It was important to retain an identifiable treehouse character for the play space and park. The colour pallet selected for the adventure+ equipment has been very successful at blending tonally with the surrounding eucalyptus canopy emphasising the theme.

Colours from the old play space were also selected to create a link between the old and new, such has the vertical blue painted steel.

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A+. What were some of the key challenges faced when designing the park?

GM. For this project we’ve upgraded an existing play space, that wasn’t designed as a play space in its first incarnation. So we’ve been working with an existing footprint, fixed levels, tree protection zones, rotting timbers and unknown drainage assets. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re dealing with until you uncover it.

However the greater challenge has been renewing a space that already had an identity and the community has an attachment to. It’s been necessary to demolish what exists and then replace it with something you truly hope the community will love just as much.

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A+. What is your favorite part the playground?

GM. My favourite is the rope net bridge element that lets you see all the way down to the ground underneath you. It’s a great setup that to reach the biggest slide you must cross this see-through bridge to get there. You need a little bravery!

I’m also super pleased with the tone of the green, brown and blue colour pallet reaching up along the vertical elements of the equipment to blend in with the circling eucalypt canopies.

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A+. Why did you choose to work with adventure+ on this project and how was your experience?

GM. Selecting adventure+ kind-of started at the end. Hume has 260+ playgrounds with new ones added every month so it’s important that the products we select have a good lifespan and can be efficiently serviced throughout their life, and adventure+ sits in that category.

Aesthetically we needed a product that could fit the role of tree house and adventure+ offered something that could give us both the vertical height and moderate customisation needed without taking too big a share of the budget.

Personally I found adventure+ accommodating and easy to work with through many iterations of the play space design as we sought the best outcome.

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A+. How has the community responded to the new play space?

GM. Everyone’s asking “When will it be open?” When can play on that?” so I think the local kids are keen to run amuck and put the new play space to the test!

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