Review by Shea Hatch
Two words: Flying Fox.
Whenever we ask children what they would like to see in their play space the answer, by a large majority, is a flying fox. Including a flying fox in your play space design is really setting yourself a big challenge to make the rest of the space equally alluring. Luckily the designer of Braithwaite Park has achieved this. Whilst on any given weekend there will be a line of children waiting their turn on the flying fox, there will be even more climbing, running, exploring, role playing and hiding throughout the adjoining nature play space.
Braithwaite Park is aimed at children aged 10-14, an age bracket many nature play parks fall short of. Trying to achieve fun risk in play for older children, whilst maintaining a safe space for younger kids seems to be an elusive target for many play space designers. However the landscape architects on Braithwaite Park have done a brilliant job of balancing the two requirements. A great example of this is the high net, elevated so that it provides challenge and risk for older children, yet it is designed to ensure smaller children cannot get into danger.
The play space is located at the north end of Braithwaite Park. The surrounding park has large open turf spaces and huge trees I have seen more than a few children’s scrambling up. But it is this new nature play space that has seriously activated the park, and on weekends it is packed.
Personally I loved the timber decking that is nestled around the retained tree - a great stage for imaginative role play. Plus there are heaps of mounds, tunnels, slides, water play and a nest swing to keep children of all ages active, engaged and exploring.
The elegant steel pods, which will one day be engulfed in greenery, provide a semi-private space for children to play and engage with – an important factor in creating spaces for older children, who can lack opportunity to meet and socialise with peers away from social media.
On a weekend it is busy, with good reason, but this just adds to the hype of the space which buzzes with laughter and play. Weekdays provide for a quieter space where smaller groups with younger children take over for a lazy coffee and play in amongst the shade of the mature trees. And no matter when you go, you can take a ride on the flying fox, you know you want to.
Nature Play WA provided consultancy services during the early phases of the project providing advice and advocacy to the project team.
Emerge Associates were the landscape architects and Phase 3 constructed the play space for The City of Vincent.
Visit Braithwaite Park for your next nature play adventure!