Strathdale Park is one of Bendigo’s most popular parks, and City of Greater Bendigo Landscape Architect, Karoline Klein was determined to get the play space looking just right…and she sure did!
Armed with an initial concept drafted by Karoline, adventure+ was able to interpret the requests to create a playground that responded to the natural setting and provided excellent play value. With mature native trees surrounding the space and a small creek nearby, it was crucial to develop a naturally inspired play space. The spectrum+ hybrid system was utilised, which provides an opportunity for a combination of timber and steel. While the combination of two timbers, Spotted Gum and White Cypress, coupled with its irregular use throughout the playground, adds character and complements the natural charm of the local area, the splashes of colour create an atmosphere of fun.
Since its opening, the play space has been immensely popular with locals and the wider community!
Read the interview with Karoline to discover the thought and methodology behind this creative space!
A+. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your current job role.
KK. I have worked for the City of Greater Bendigo for eight years and it is rewarding to see how much the understanding of the importance of play has grown. Having co-authored the play strategy for the City of Greater Bendigo in 2009 – which back then was regarded an ambitious document – it is fantastic to be part of the implementation and to witness the on-ground change. Play spaces have come a long way from the standard swing-set in a square of soft-fall mulch to the integrated family spaces we aim to create now.
A+. What were some of the key challenges faced when designing this park redevelopment?
KK. The small size of the site – which is hemmed in by a road, pathways and carparking on all sides – combined with some tricky site topography. But addressing these issues created some positive outcomes: Achieving the required path length to accommodate wheel chair accessibility resulted in a snaking, visually rich path layout. And the close placement of play equipment has created a very “condensed” play space. When the space is filled with children the energy of happy play and excitement is tangible and contagious.
A+. What were the key outcomes you wanted out of this project and did you achieve them?
KK. In all my designs I try to create new experiences in the day to day lives of the users, i.e. the children and their carers. In this case it was maximising the experience of height by including climbing heights of up to 2.4m, introducing new spinning elements to Bendigo and working with rich textures and colours. Also accompanying adults – especially grandparents – need to be comfortable in the space, as they determine the length of play time. So we carefully placed a variety of seating and picnicking tables in shaded spots. In addition we tried to work towards two key design principles of “inclusive play” and “natural play”. This informed the use of timber beams with the combination play unit and the installation of some giant timber gumnuts and a timber play hive.
A+. Why did you choose to work with adventure+ on this project?
KK. adventure+ offered the trifecta of local content, price competitiveness and customised elements. We took a sketch design of a custom structure to adventure+ and through a series of discussions, adventure+ created an exciting combination unit that was sympathetic to the natural aesthetics of the site.
A+. What is your favourite part about the playground or park you designed?
KK. The satisfaction that comes with watching and listening to the soundscape of playing children. The knowledge that for that brief half an hour or so of their visit we created something positive in their and their parents lives. We also managed to provide play opportunities for a wide age range: 2 year olds can explore a range of natural textures from timber to natural rock and colourful glazed bricks. Teenagers love to compete for a spot on the climbing cube or help their younger siblings on the tall combination unit. And ample seating allows the parents and grandparents to be “close to the action”.
A+ Have you got any feedback from the community?
KK. The community has voted with their feet resulting in an significant increase in visitation.