A challenging site brings out the best in a playground design that works for a wide range of ages and abilities.
For over a decade, the site of the new Baradene playground had sat bare. It was a sloped site that seemed to have no practical use.
The idea for a new playground was brought up by the Dean of Years 7 and 8. A few sites were considered around the school before they settled on the bare sloping site towards the rear of the school.
The school’s Executive Officer, Richard Agnew says, “The site presented a number of challenges, not least of which was the slope. Many years ago, the site also housed a series of temporary classrooms with all the necessary piping and drainage etc. so, we knew it would be a tricky site, but it just seemed to make sense as the site for the new playground.”
The Dean of Years 7 and 8, along with the Principal and sports teachers began the process of developing the brief to put to market.
“After talking with the various staff members, it was clear that we wanted a playground that could be used by the years 7 and 8… yet also be used by the younger high school students as part of their PE lessons,” Richard said.
Having settled on the site and developing the brief, the Dean put feelers out to market for companies to design and build a new playground. Baradene had engaged with the Park Supplies & Playgrounds team approximately eight years prior and worked with the sales manager Jenny on a project that did not go ahead. Baradene reached out to Park Supplies & Playgrounds and connected with Jenny to begin the process of obtaining a design and build quotation.
Arlo MacDiarmid, Property Officer at Baradene said, “We knew of Park Supplies & Playgrounds and had an existing relationship with Jenny. We always require at least two proposals for projects of this type. In the end, of the two companies that provided a design and build quotation, Park Supplies & Playgrounds presented us with the most age-appropriate design that met our brief.”
The Park Supplies & Playgrounds design centered around flattening the site with the use of retaining walls.
“The prices were similar from the two companies. It came down to the design presented and the materials chosen. The Park Supplies & Playgrounds solution looked really tidy, modern and hard wearing.”
Jenny commented that the site was really tricky;
“Not only was the slope a challenge, but the existing pipework also made for an interesting and challenging design process. We moved the footprint of the design no less than four times to accommodate the various challenges.” – Jenny Mullins, Park Supplies & Playgrounds
Just as the design work was completed and the manufacturing began, Covid-19 lockdown hit.
With construction work ready to start on the 2nd of April, the timeline for the build had to change.
The first thought was to postpone the build until the July school holidays when access to the site would not interrupt the day-to-day goings on of the students, however the decision was made to go ahead with the build in the first week of May.
“We wanted to minimise disruption to the students, but it worked really well starting the build in May,” Arlo explains.
“Movements on the site had to happen before 8:00am and after 4:00pm or on the weekends. There was never an issue with noise or safety and the workers were respectful and always dressed appropriately. And they were incredibly fast. I was genuinely floored how much they had achieved in one day.”
As for the students, they had no idea what was happening and once they found out the excitement levels began to rise. The Playground was completed in the first week of the July school holidays and the opening ceremony was planned for the first day back at school.
Richard Agnew remembers, “We had about 100 people seated for the opening of the playground. Once we cut the tape and the students were allowed on the playground, it was inundated. And to be fair, it has been inundated ever since.”
The sports department wanted to use the playground for PE. The final design features a series of physical challenges set beside each other to create a “track” that two students at a time can race on. The two courses allow for ‘time trials’ to be held. There is competition and a lot of fun involved.
The addition of an Orex Spinner was a highlight for the students. “The Orex Spinner is an absolute hit. I am extremely impressed. The bearing is amazing. It spins beautifully.” says Arlo.
Now, with the playground complete and the students enjoying it daily, both Richard and Arlo reflect on the process of getting the playground in the ground.
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