The Hills District All-Abilities Playground

The Hills District All Abilities Playground at Leslie Patrick Park is the development of a new district level facility to support the diverse needs of the Moreton Bay Region’s community. At approximately 5000m2, the facility includes a tailored play experience that aims to satisfy the needs of users of all physical and intellectual abilities within a fully fenced environment.

The culmination of an extensive design collaboration between Playscape Creations and Moreton Bay Regional Council, this unique all-abilities playscape is delivers a holistic space vision that considers the synergy of each element, where interconnecting pathways invite users to explore the entirety of the space while ensuring that every piece of equipment is wheelchair accessible. Majestic Fig trees border one side of the park, offering abundant shade within the lush natural environment.

The vision for the playground design was to provide a community gathering space that promotes the well-being and social inclusion of the entire community, including those with additional support needs. Early concept work identified the importance of intergenerational and sensory play values to achieve the placemaking and playground vision.

Playscape Creations’ earliest concept designs were presented at consultation events involving the broader community and disability services. The emphasis of consultation was an understanding of how each user/group intended to engage, interact with and experience the playspace. From this feedback, the detailed design process was completed in alignment with an Occupational Therapist.

 

 

There are seven different experiential zones within the playground; a social hub, smart zone, adventure zone, swing zone, sensory zone, embankment and climbing zone, and an action zone.

A custom play unit allows for a large number of users in the action zone, with a ramp providing safe all-abilities access to the lower levels and educational and braille panels installed at various heights to ensure all users can interact.  This customised play piece meets a wide range of user needs, able-bodied children who need opportunities to take risks, through to users with mobility, visual and sensory impairments; all able to play and interact on the one unit.

The smart zone includes sensory musical elements and a large tactile wall, accessible movement pieces including a carousel, see-saw and a custom honeycomb rocker, an imaginative play unit and sand play with accessible diggers.

The swinging zone comprises a large 5-way swing with a range of seats to accommodate children, carers, grandparents and parents, all swinging together.

 

 

Sensory Gardens interspersed within and surrounding the playspace promote an intergenerational interface as well as providing additional sensory stimulation for children. With all-abilities amenities BBQ’s and plenty of shaded seating, visitors are invited to stay and play longer.

The bee theming and high contrast colours and shapes used on the surface finishes and softfall provides a guide for those with visual impairments to move throughout the site.  Specific trails and pathways have been provided to move throughout the playspace to key social and interaction nodes.  Deeply considerate of the inclusive nature of the playspace, every effort was made to ensure all equipment and gradients were wheelchair accessible and comfortable for people using other mobility aids.

All equipment was considered for durability and low-maintenance requirements, with each element expected to have a 10+ year asset life.  Using local manufacturers and installers secured long term access to spare parts (if required).  The misting and hand carved totems use reclaimed Australian hardwood and the sensory gardens are maintained by the local Lions Club.

 

 

Council has been encouraged by the community response to the new facility. High levels of visitation, including local schools and community groups are actively engaging in the facilities provided within the new playground. Mitchelton Special School regularly bring students for play, Council libraries run ‘story time’ within the park and the local child care centres and community groups are regular visitors too. The ability to activate intergenerational play has been highly successful throughout the playspace, but particularly in the more unprogrammed zones, such as the adventure zone and sensory zone.

 

Awarded Best Playspace >$500k by Parks and Leisure Australia (Awards of Excellence)

Commended by Kidsafe Australia’s 2020 Design Awards