This project won the 2013 Architizer A+ Jury Award in the Landscapes and Gardens category. See the full list of winners here.
Part of the virtue of the conventional playground—with its swing sets, monkey bars, slides, and assorted colorful, climbable, spin-able accouterments—is its modular and compact nature, its condensation of so many replicable obstacles and stimulants into a relatively small space. The downside of this, however, is the limited variety of experiences that the traditional playground can offer. Given a sprawling, riverside space at the Sydney Olympic Parklands, JMD Design sought to re-conceptualize the children’s playground, manipulating space and rethinking typical play equipment to enhance the experience of Blaxland Riverside Park Regional Playspace for both children and adults. .
“At Blaxland, play equipment is secondary to the space and experience itself,” the firm explains in the project description. "Imagination is encouraged, play is challenging, and the perception of risk is reintroduced.” Instead of planting the familiar prefabricated concourse on flat land, JMD Design chose to reshape the topography of the play space, creating a series of large, inverted cones with sloping, 45-degree walls and unique play equipment such as tubular slides, climbing wall rocks, and cargo nets.
The designers also wanted to eliminate the segregation between adults and children established by the conventional playground, where they observed “bored parents linger[ing] around the edges.” A 12-meter tree house, a “water plaza” with 156 water jets, a cul-de-sac of swings, and a kiosk with enormous, protruding eaves designed by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects create distinctive spaces for visitors of any age to explore. At Blaxland, “[t]he scale of the spaces and the elements within promotes interaction between different age groups, making the playground as much for the parents as it is for their kids.”