The residents of Richmond District, San Francisco have worked together with local architects and design teams to renovate a sad old playspace and turn it into a colourful mixed-age, multi-level playground.
The Mountain Lake Park Playground has been given a colourful facelift thanks to the Richmond District’s community effort. Three local mothers took it upon themselves to form the Friends of Mountain Lake Park Playground (FMLPP) advocacy group after they learned a renovation of the playground could only happen with the support of community advocates.
The landscape of the new park slopes gently down to the banks of the water, giving the designers of the playspace the ability to incorporate several levels of activity. Separate play areas on these terrace levels are organized according to age and play ability; these are then threaded together by a series of meandering pathways that provide an accessible route throughout the playground, including to the top of the slide.
The concrete slide acts as the centrepiece of the playground and was preserved closely to its original form. Midway on the journey to the top of the slide, an observation platform sits perched on a forest of steel columns and overlooks the pre-school area and the expansive views of Mountain Lake.
Architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson states that they took care to incorporate several of the areas historic elements into their playground design.
“The ‘sand dunes’ [yellow coloured raised softfall mounds] of the preschool area represent the rolling sand dunes that once spread across the region; the ribbed pattern of the concrete walls is an abstraction of tulle reeds that line the shores of Mountain Lake; tracks of birds and animals native to the area imprint the surface of the wall that borders the school age area; while large sculptures, including a frog and turtle, acknowledge the native aquatic life in the lake. These site-specific references are enriched by large timber play structures, giving the impression that they were fashioned from logs of the surrounding forests.”
Other features of the park include a sloped rock climbing wall alongside the concrete slide, several in-built park benches, swing sets, and various activity centres for younger users.
The renovation of the park was brought about by a combination of council funding, community fundraising and donations organised by FMLPP, and donated services from Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Lutsko Associates, and Holmes Structures.
All images © Nic Lehoux