A 'design through play' exercise ensures community involvement in design process
Planning for the All Abilities Playground Project in Townsville began in late 2007 and was funded by a grant from Disability Services Queensland. The design methodology followed was based on a ‘design through play’ exercise held within the playground site where the local community were asked to discuss the design needs of the space and contribute ideas to the designers. The project was developed with regular community consultation to ensure the key requirement of equal accessibility for all was achieved. The RPS Landscape design team worked closely with Townsville City Council Parks Service to deliver this project. The joint venture proved to be a success as evidenced by the relatively easy construction process and the ultimate success of the playground itself.
The playground concept was to integrate the park with existing riverway lagoons and weave along the Ross River Bank. The play space was designed around nature based and imaginative play to inspire the senses, encourage learning, provide challenges and for children of all abilities to have fun. A tree house was included allowing children to have a different perspective on the world. The multi level turtle sand pit allows children of all ages and abilities to build a sand castle. The sensory garden brings colour smell and sound into the play experience. The obstacle course was specifically designed to assist children with balance and physical needs while still engaging their imagination, they don’t realise it is therapy. Signage for the park was designed to provide children with learning games to play while in the park, such as finding how many turtles are in the park.
Not only can you play in the park, you can learn to read and count, develop musical skills, taste some herbs and still have a go on a swing. Custom designed play equipment was developed with simple materials that provide a multitude of tactile responses. Having lead the community through the design development and construction process means they are more willing to take ownership of the site and get involved in other local projects. Residents are now starting to suggest ways that other parks across the city can be improved.