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Interview with Nicholas Rose on Cornerstone Safari Park

The PEET Cornerstone Safari Park

The PEET Cornerstone Safari Park, located in Werribee, Victoria, was designed by Urban Edge Landscape Architects in conjunction with selected playground items by Agency of Sculpture and adventure+.

adventure+ interviewed Nicholas Rose, Director of Urban Edge Landscape Architects, to get insights into the design of the Cornerstone Safari Park.

Interview with Nicholas Rose on Cornerstone Safari Park
Interview with Nicholas Rose on Cornerstone Safari Park
A+. Tell us a little about Urban Edge Landscape Architects, the team and your involvement in the Cornerstone Project.

NR. Urban Edge Landscape Architects is a medium sized landscape architecture firm based in South Melbourne that provides landscape architecture services to a range of clients including property developers, golf courses and private residences.

We have worked with our client PEET for over 10 years on several of their developments across metropolitan Melbourne and have been involved with the Cornerstone Project since 2012. The Safari Park is the first public open space reserve to be completed in the Cornerstone development.

The project team for the Safari Park were Directors Soren Inglis and Nicholas Rose along with Landscape Architect Kate Jarrett, with additional Contract Administration undertaken by Reg Holloway.

Interview with Nicholas Rose on Cornerstone Safari Park
Interview with Nicholas Rose on Cornerstone Safari Park
A+. Can you share the thought behind the design of the play space, it’s theme and what’s included in the space?

NR. The design of the park evolved from the context of the site and the surrounding local amenities. Cornerstone is located in Werribee, with views across the western plains to the You Yangs and is just a few kilometres from the Werribee Mansion and Open Range Zoo.

The park was inspired by African safari parks and was designed for children of all ages. The playground is situated around a central linear creek bed that extends from a mound through the play equipment to a partially submerged Hippopotamus in the water hole at the other end.

The custom adventure+ play unit welcoming visitors to the park when they enter from the main access paths and is elevated to ensure long range views across to the You Yangs. The unit is designed to resemble an African safari lodge, nestled in the tree tops to allow visitors to observe the custom designed animals below.

Interview with Nicholas Rose on Cornerstone Safari Park
Interview with Nicholas Rose on Cornerstone Safari Park

The adventure+ unit incorporates rope bridges, climbing walls, slides, areas of shade and shelter, both junior and senior play elements, as well as play items for all abilities.

adventure+ also supplied timber framed swings, a rope bridge and a spinner to compliment the main unit. The bespoke animals by Agency of Sculpture are located around the central water course with a Rhinoceros climbing frame, a baby Rhinoceros rocker, a Giraffe basket swing and a Hippopotamus junior climbing frame.

The Safari Park also includes a bespoke shelter with picnic facilities that provides shade to park users. There is also a large open lawn area with a multipurpose goal for use as a kick about space. The reserve also includes landscape rocks and climbing logs to reinforce the nature play opportunities in the playground.

A+. You’ve come up with some fantastic ideas in the project, where do you get your inspiration?

NR. The main inspiration for the Safari Park comes from the nearby Werribee Open Range Zoo and the surrounding landscape of the Western Plains. The popularity of the zoo and the similarity of the existing site landscape to the African Plains lead to the idea of a Safari Park playground, which has instant appeal to a diverse range of children of various ages, abilities and backgrounds, and provided a point of difference to other more traditional type playgrounds in the area.

We worked with Agency of Sculpture to develop and fabricate the animal play items. The brightly coloured logs were inspired by the traditional beaded jewellery and necklaces similar to the traditional Zulu bead work. The shelter is inspired by contemporary African architecture that looks at ways of cooling and constructing buildings in central Africa with limited resources.

A+. What were some challenges that you had to overcome in the design of the play space?

NR. One of the main challenges in designing a custom playground with a strong central theme is the need to balance sculpture, form and aesthetic with function, usability and playability. The theme should not outweigh the opportunities for play and enjoyment of the space.

The central play unit supplied by adventure+ is an important focus of this design, as it provides a wide range of play opportunities for a number of users of different ages and abilities. It also holds the user’s attention and allows for both repetitive as well as explorative play opportunities.

Interview with Nicholas Rose on Cornerstone Safari Park
Interview with Nicholas Rose on Cornerstone Safari Park
A+. Why did you choose to work with adventure+ on this project?

NR. Urban Edge Landscape Architects have a strong working relationship with adventure+ and have delivered many playgrounds and custom play spaces together over the last 15+ years.

adventure+ are willing to work collaboratively in customising their product to suit the brief and can meet specific budget requirements. They work well with landscape contractors to install their products on time and on budget and have an enviable reputation with Councils for a high degree of post installation care.

When designing a custom playground with a strong central theme, it is important to ensure that the sculptural elements still provide a high degree of playability. We chose to work with adventure+ as they can provide robust, traditional play items including swings and slides which are an important component of playground design, but also customise their playground units to suit specific themes.

Teams involved in the project:

Landscape Architects: Urban Edge
Landscape Contractor: ULS Group
Playground Elements: adventure+, Agency of Sculpture

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