Playground Planet

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Waterview Playground began as an award-winning collaborative process between the designers and the local children.

Close your eyes and imagine that you’ve been taken to a planet full of playgrounds — any kind of playground. Imagine you’re on holiday there for a whole week. What would you do each day, and why?

That was the question asked during a series of interactive consultation and design workshops with children from Waterview Primary School.

The design team, including Alisdair Rigby, Larissa Moyle and Caroline Patton from Boffa Miskell; collated their responses and used them as drivers for the concept of Waterview Playground.

“There were stong themes of water-play, risk-taking and edible landscapes, as well as the usual elements of slides, swings and roundabouts,” says landscape architect Al Rigby. “Some ideas were so creative, they proved a real challenge to translate into buildable structures; but that was the fun of it.”

Among the more memorable requests were: “…a food park — eat anything you want for free…” and “…all our favourite famous people come meet us and play.”

The final design has a water-based theme in response to the coastal location, and the overwhelming popularity of ‘water-play’ among the responses. It includes a five-metre high tube slide connected to an octagon-shaped tower with an internal spiral staircase. From the top platform there are views of the Northwestern Motorway, Waitemata Harbour, Unitec Campus and surrounding Waterview streets. Nearby are sandpit areas and two water play spaces which include sprayers, water cannons, dams, weirs and channels in which water can be diverted before it falls into planted rain gardens and swales.

The playground caters for toddlers through to youth age groups with tunnelled mounds separating the play areas. Along with water-play, risk-taking activities were popular among the students, so opportunities for this are included through bridges, climbing nets, tunnels, a three-metre climbing wall, as well as the usual swings and roundabouts.

Along with the playspace, social features desired by the local community were incorporated: barbeques, a fale for shade and a sculpture waka feature. A circulating path provides a spot for young bike riders and scooters, and there are adjacent basketball, volleyball and netball courts.

As part of the opening ceremonies, children from Waterview Primary buried a time capsule. The second stage of redevelopment — including a skatepark and BMX track — opens later this year, while a heritage area near Oakley Creek and improved walking and cycling access will be completed in 2017.

Recognition for the consultation process for the playground came from the New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI), whose panel of judges unanimously awarded the Best Practice Award for Consultation and Participation Strategies and Process to the Well-Connected Alliance (of which Boffa Miskell was a part), Auckland Cuncil and the Albert-Eden Local Board for their “outstanding creativity, innovation and service” in the design of the playground.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Aotearoa.

For further information please contact Caroline Patton

10 September 2019