AT PLAY IN THE TREES


Reflecting a forest-like structure, the playscape at Ringwood Lake Park offers exciting play elements from the ground up.

Heeding the call from Maroondah City Council, Omnitech Playgrounds, in collaboration with Playce Landscapes and Open Playscapes, played an integral role in creating a contemporary playspace in Ringwood Lake Park, which sits on the banks of an attractive waterway in Ringwood, Victoria.

Set across a sprawling 8.5 hectares of land that incorporates various recreation spaces, such as a sound shell, picnic shelters, barbecue amenities and a 1.1-kilometre-long walking circuit, Ringwood Lake Park offers the region an attractive public greenspace with many all-access elements that create an inclusive recreation environment.

Recognising the need to provide the local community with a regional play area that caters to children of all ages and abilities, Maroondah City Council contracted a team to upgrade the existing playground in the park. Omnitech, experts in bringing playscapes to life, was responsible for the design, manufacture and installation of the centrepiece of the park, a custom, spotted gum timber play tower manufactured in Australia.

Soaring above the space, the all-access play tower mimics the organic structure of a rainforest, presenting different levels of play that allow children to explore at a height comfortable for their age and physical ability. Custom designed for the project, the play structure comprises a “forest floor” with under-deck play activities, such as a giant abacus, that encourage exploration and the discovery of hidden treasures. Canopy play is achieved high up in the treetops and offers bridges that span the length of the structure, plenty of slides at varying heights and climbing challenges, along with a handy ramp for easy access. Finally, the emergent layer features a fun “crow’s nest” for those that like a bird’s-eye view — with the best part being the stainless steel tube slide that shoots players down to the ground, ready to begin the climb to the top all over again.

With a network of play trails that weave through the trees, the playscape is well linked to provide ample play opportunities from the ground to the treetops. Play elements from track glides and rope courses to balance platforms and cubbies encourage creative play for natural explorers of all ages and abilities, allowing them to engage side-by-side at a level that suits them. Animal sculptures scattered about the space fuel the imagination and enhance the enchanted forest theme of the park, and a stone dry-creek facilitates water and sand activities.

With a budget of $100,000, paid for from Council’s Capital Works budget and the Victorian Government’s Community Sports Infrastructure fund, this expansive project was completed in two stages. Stage 1 included the development of the play area, which encompassed the expansion of the play zone to incorporate a liberty swing, carousel for wheelchairs and fully accessible pathways to ensure admission for all. The barbecue and picnic areas were also extended so as to become more effectively integrated into the playspace and provide space for families and friends to gather together in a child-friendly environment.

Where possible, existing trees were retained and used to create natural barriers between the play zone, the lake and the highway.

 This strategic planning developed highly considered access points into the playspace, as well as providing natural shade and enhancing the nature-based look and feel of the timber play equipment.

Stage 2 of the project included a series of disabled parking bays connected to the playspace via an accessible path, making the area easier to navigate for all members of the community.

With its plethora of activities and diversity of play challenges, the Ringwood Lake Park playspace is a boon to the region that will keep delighting park-goers well into the future.

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PROJECT PARTICULARS
Client Maroondah City Council
Location Ringwood, Victoria
Landscape Architect Playce Pty Ltd
Head Contractor Open Playscapes
Play Equipment Supply & Install Omnitech Playgrounds



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