The Mill Playground features custom designed adventure and aquatic play spaces, carefully designed to include universal access zones, non-prescribed junior play and multiple level adventure exploration. The combination of aquatic and adventure play provides a unique opportunity for children of all ages and abilities to explore the limits of play while offering stunning socialisation and relaxation spaces for the broader community.
Playscape Creations was engaged by Landscape Architecture firm O2LA in 2019 for specialist design advice regarding an interactive water feature, structures, hydraulics, and water filtration and management systems.
The design of the aquatic park needed to be sensitive to the environmental concerns of the surrounding area, while incorporating elements that were unique to The Mill site and the Moreton Bay Region.
Collaborating with the O2LA design team, the initial concept incorporated the snaking path of the Pine River, with custom designed mud crabs paying homage to the interaction of the local fauna and mangroves of the region.
Bringing the history of The Mill into the design was achieved through the conceptualisation of a unique “paper scroll” water discharge bucket. Playscape Creations undertook the detailed design and engineering for this piece, in keeping with the style of the huge paper rolls the Petrie Paper Mill was famous for producing.
Building on the initial concept design, the addition of sluice gates into the river swales give children the opportunity to interact with and control the flow of water across the site, and multiple fountains and ground sprays provide additional tactile and sensory opportunities for users of all ages.
Pathways to the splashpad and waterplay zone have been engineered to assist users of all abilities to gain access to the interactive water features, in-line with Council’s vision for this area.
Collaboration meetings were held with the landscape architect’s design team, both in person and via teleconference to develop the initial concept design and further develop the detailed design. Plans, images and renders were provided to O2LA for incorporation into their plans and presentations for the whole vision for the site to the asset owner, Moreton Bay Regional Council (MBRC).
Once the detailed design was signed off by O2LA and Council, Playscape Creations’ specialist team finalised the detailed structural engineering and hydraulic documentation for tender phase.
MBRC Mayor Allan Sutherland promotes the site as a high-tech hub, incorporating sustainable and specialised technological initiatives throughout the site. Not to be left behind, Playscape Creations has incorporated innovative DMX controlled LED light fountains, adding a choreographed water play experience for the children and an interactive light show art piece for all users at night.
Adventure Play Design
As an instrumental part of Petrie’s population and economic growth, the Petrie Mill site is an iconic location, known for its past resourcing and supply of paper and carton board products to Australia. The bespoke design of this inter-generational recreational area incorporates the site’s history with subtle representations of The Mill provided throughout the landscape. The specialised pieces designed for this project – from the smoke stacks of the Entry from the kick about fields to the large industrial framework used throughout the play construction – embody both the old and the new worlds.
The Adventure Tower
The Adventure Tower echoes the main industrial structure of the Mill itself. The staggered box arrangement gives users a sense of discovery and multiple outlooks while maintaining the straight lines and heavy box section steel frames of the original Mill; expressing the notion of an industrial plant reborn. By providing decorative façade elements including a moving representation of The Mill’s huge paper rolls, the essence of the sites’ history has been captured.
It is not just the aesthetics of the Tower that add presence to the site; standing at over 8m high, the tower acts as a beacon to draw visitors in and entice children to come and play. There are a range of climbing and exploratory challenges throughout, with climbing nets to be traversed over multiple levels before reaching the top and admiring the views across the greater Petrie area.
A truly inter-generational structure, the Adventure Tower delivers comfortable provision for active adult supervision as all spaces – including the slides – are designed to accommodate adults that are big kids at heart too. With slides at both upper and lower levels, children (and adults) of all ages and levels of ability can participate and challenge themselves to explore their limits.
In complement to the invigorating range of experiences within the Tower, the surrounding zones provide both speed and height stimulation with a unique flying fox and mega swing. Promoting upper body strength and exhilarating movement, the flying fox traverses over a 24-metre run, building up speed and height over the full distance. With custom platform entry arches to complement the Entry Statement and Tower, children are encouraged to wait and take turns, promoting cooperative play and community-mindedness.
Key Project Innovations
With the site location situated adjacent to the North Pine River and only minutes to Moreton Bay, materiality became a key consideration of the design to ensure maximum asset longevity with minimal ongoing maintenance responsibilities.
In an extreme foreshore location such as The Mill, all equipment and landscaping elements are subject to a constant corrosive atmosphere. To combat this, the strongest materials were chosen and upgraded:
- 304 Stainless Steel used for all structural features, finished with powder coating to prevent tea-staining
- Composite Wood cladding used on Adventure Tower versus hardwood – requires no ongoing maintenance (painting, sanding), is UV resistant and manufactured using plastic from post industrial waste, so it’s kind to the environment
The operational costs of running an aquatic park are an important consideration in the initial design phases.
For The Mill project, MBRC identified that resource sustainability and ongoing efficiency were incredibly important to manage over the long term.
The aquatic element setup and plantroom features a number of water and energy saving devices to ensure the sustainable use of our natural resources.
The splashpark achieves 98.5% efficiency, with all water flows from the splashpad captured, treated and reused with minimal need for water top ups.
98.5% water use is recycled and reused.
The water quality systems are operated by a state-of-the-art automatic testing and chemical dosing system with remote telemetry, so the system can be constantly monitored from anywhere. Variable flow devices are fitted to all features to ensure pump “soft start”, reducing wear and energy use. The plant room has been constructed of concrete blocks with fans for cross-ventilation, delivering better acoustic and thermal control and negating the need for an air-conditioning system.
An activator has been fitted to the splashpark to ensure the operation of the water features only when there is someone there. After a period of inactivity, the splashpark goes into “sleep mode”, with splashpad features stopping to conserve water and power use. Filtration and water sterilisation systems continue their normal running cycle.
The Splashpark starts up again as soon as users engage the activator – in this case they need to spin the Ringmaster wheel! Feature start time is under 10 seconds, with fountains and features running and the paper roll tipping bucket re-filling immediately.
The park provides multiple community benefits and importantly Council placed community value for recreation over development potential at the front door of the most significant Council-led urban centre development in MBRC recent history. Having Council drive the project from the outset means that community benefit remains the primary driver across multiple initiatives including community and cultural facilities, education, environment, sustainability and economic development. It is the first stage of an integrated open space corridor that lies within a broader strategic initiative for a Mountains to Mangroves recreational corridor.
From hectares of heavy industrial buildings and chimney stacks, a processing plant, wastewater treatment ponds and landfills to a community focussed green space, secured koala habitat and protected water catchments, the ecologically sound restoration of this area will enhance wildlife habitation and local enjoyment of the area while recognising the desires of the local indigenous community.
With such a varied array of activities to participate in and areas to explore, this exclusive integrated playground, splash park and recreational space design not only pays respect to the site’s rich past but encourages children, families and the wider community to spend quality time socialising and guaranteeing repeat future visits.
The Mill has become a favourite place for locals from Brisbane’s Northside, with more than 32,000 families visiting in the first month of operation establishing a significant local economic multiplier. It also attracts people from all over SE QLD, delivering additional economic benefits to the local businesses in the area and giving further exposure to the new University of Southern QLD site.
Also of significant note for the parkland was the co-location with new University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) Petrie campus. This involved design thinking around contributing to a healthy, inclusive and robust new community and how students and the staff would use the parkland space and recreational opportunities and increase patronage to the playspaces.
Featured across well-known family resource websites such as Brisbane Kids and Go Duckling, community feedback for the facilities, the integration of aquatic and adventure play experiences and provision of open space has been outstanding.
The introduction of night-time activation features such as choregraphed fountains with an integrated lighting feature means the space can be utilised for longer periods of time. Multiple access points, wide open spaces and good amenities provision means the space is also suitable for larger community events such as Christmas Carols, markets and sporting events. The village green will also function as a defacto sports oval for students as further formal facilities are developed. It is lit for night time uses to 100lux which enables training and junior level sports to be accommodated.
The project was a significant generator of local employment. Council has a further forward investment in the order of $70million over the next 5 years at the site that is anticipated to attract substantially higher levels of private sector investment. The facilities also contribute to the USC campus value as a ‘sticky’ campus that offers value adds to attract more students.
Award Winning Space
Did you see? The Mill @ Moreton Bay recently won the award for best playspace over $500k at the Parks and Leisure Australia 2021 QLD Region awards! A stunning integrated adventure and aquatic play experience, you can take a tour of the project here (without getting your feet wet!)
You can read more about the Parks and Leisure Australia (PLA) Awards here: https://www.parksleisure.com.au/awards/national-finalists/2021/
The partnership between O2LA, Moreton Bay Regional Council (MBRC) and Playscape Creations throughout the design and construction phase was truly collaborative, with each party bringing their expertise to the table to ensure the best possible outcome for the playscapes. The end product delivers a stunning reflection of the initial design concepts and renders, demonstrating the capability of the partnership in delivering what was promised.
The aquatics construction phase was undertaken in partnership with JMac Constructions as principal contractor. Playscape Creations was the principal contractor for the adventure play space.