adventure+ partnered with City of Burnside’s Landscape Architect, Claire Bottrall to redevelop the play space at Bellyett Reserve. The recently completed upgrade is proving to be favourite with the Wattle Valley community. adventure+ developed initial pen sketches and turned them into a working piece of equipment, compliant with Australian Standards.
The unique design utilises the spectrum+ hybrid system, which combines steel and timber and was key to ensuring that the desired rustic, natural look was achieved and that the playground blended in with the surrounding environment Read the interview with Claire to discover the thought and methodology behind this creative space!
A+. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your current role at City of Burnside.
CB. I have worked as a Landscape Architect for 7 years in private practice before making the transition to Council nearly 3 years ago. For the last 2 years I have been working as a Landscape Architect for the City of Burnside, doing various projects such as the design of community gardens, roundabout islands, dog parks, memorial landscapes, screening panels, DDA compliant access to buildings and, of course, playgrounds.
A+. What were the key outcomes you wanted out of this project and did you achieve them?
CB. The project needed to be site sensitive and highlight the existing natural play elements already existing within the reserve, but I also wanted to provide some structured play that complemented this. The idea behind the design was to create a series of interconnecting rooms that could be used as whatever the imagination inspired. With some strategic pruning, the existing vegetation was able to be shaped into a series of ‘rooms’ and the play structure was designed to be an extension of this space. Emphasis was given to providing a harmonious link between the natural and the structural by the use of timber, organic mulch and log steppers linking the two areas. The playground is designed to not only promote imagination play, but also to inspire investigation of surrounding spaces and feel a connection to the environment.
A+. What were some of the key challenges faced when designing this park?
CB. The key challenges when designing the park were also some of the best assets that make this play area the captivating place it is. The reserve incorporates a creek line that is considered a key biodiversity site and has existing vegetation including many large indigenous trees. The design of the play area needed to be respectful of these elements and help to enhance the natural beauty of the site. While the slope of the site caused some issues with the drainage and the installation of the cubby houses, it also added an extra element to the play experience and allowed multiple different views to be had across the site.
A+. What is your favourite part about the playground or park you designed?
CB. I am really pleased with how the surrounding garden areas all link together and my favourite place to sit is at the round log table and chairs. I love the height of the play structure and the different views you can get from the platforms. The play structure also has the excitement of the tunnel slide and the challenges of the climbing elements that I think add an element of challenge and bravery for the younger kids.
A+. Why did you choose to work with adventure+ on this project?
CB. I have worked with adventure+ before in the past and knew that they not only sold off the shelf items of play equipment, but have a lot of experience and success in custom design. Because the idea I had in my head of creating a series of cubby houses both in the natural landscape and in built form was something different I approached them to help me with the design. They took my pen sketches on yellow trace and made them into a working piece of equipment compliant with the Australian Standard
A+. Have you received any feedback from the community?
CB. I have received the following quote and someone has kindly done a write up on the web.
“I love the new playground! My favourite bit was the tunnel slide because it was nice and steep and a little bit scary but not too much”
Charlotte, 8, Stonyfell
“Bellyett Reserve in Wattle Park is a small playground but great space for imaginative play. My kids thrive on that sort of space! The very recently updated playground is a great little park located off Stonyfell Road. The playground equipment is small but well designed and includes slides, climbing nets and two wooden forts. The most impressive part of this playground however is the way it is set up for imaginative and nature play. For starters, the ground is mulched by pine bark chips, very refreshing in this age of foam and plastic. Wooden stumps have been cleverly used to create stepping stones, table and chairs and nature play areas set among the trees. My kids spent ages pretending this area was a gorilla grotto and played gorilla families. The opportunities for role-play, imaginative play and oral communication are endless.”