Playford Civic Centre
Landscape Architects: Oxigen
Client: City of Playford
Scope of Project
The City of Playford engaged Oxigen to design, document and administer the construction of the landscape component of their new Civic Centre at Elizabeth. This development re-used former buildings including the Octagon Theatre to provide a new civic heart to Elizabeth. The civic centre now houses Council officers, a Council chamber, civic function rooms and the Elizabeth library. Outdoor spaces have been designed as an integral component of the development, and these include a main civic plaza, entries and enclosed courtyards.
Oxigen worked with the building’s Architect and Council to not only complement the building in its setting, but to provide functional outdoor spaces and establish a contemporary public realm that projects a confident and progressive image to the City.
Oxigen’s scope of work included all aspects of the public realm associated with the development, including the design and documentation of the following:
The main civic plaza, entries, carpark planting and lighting, internal courtyards (the Mayor’s courtyard and civic courtyard) and planting beds.
In respect to the above areas, Oxigen designed all elements in the public realm, including the fencing, planting, irrigation, paving, public lighting and street furniture elements such as bollards and the Playford Boulevard bus shelter.
Concept and Intent
Oxigen shared their Client’s passion for the use of native plants and a desire to use landscape design as a means of reinforcing a project’s sense of place and identity. It is often difficult to use only a palette of native plants in a highly-used civic location due to the limited availability of suitable species, but this was achieved at Playford. Local native species are used in the majority of planting beds, providing a future seed source and a demonstration garden that illustrates the qualities of our native flora. Overall, the planting requires low water use and represents an environmentally sustainable solution to urban landscape design.
This project continues Oxigen’s exploration of the development of a unique Australian design vocabulary. By using articulated spaces and native plant material in a structured and contemporary way, they have formed the landscape into a recognisable and distinctive canvas that is attractive, functional, educational and memorable. This project extends the boundaries of design from the palette often seen in landscape design in South Australia. In particular, the use of mature Boab trees in the main civic plaza is a bold interpretation of the original trees planted in the Elizabeth and Virginia district over a hundred years and twenty years ago. A number of these original trees still remain in the district – they remind us of the original European settlements and the use of native trees brought to the district by explorers returning from journeys to Central Australia.
The paving pattern in the plaza reinforces this sense of place. Setts evoke the shallow creeks flowing over the Adelaide plains from the Elizabeth foothills to the sea. Oxigen designed the quirky fences that separate the carpark from Playford Boulevard as well as the distinctive bus shelter along this road. Other elements, such as the timber bollards, reinforce the craft and care that has gone into the design of all of the elements comprising the public realm.
Like many landscape architectural projects, this landscape will change and mature over time as the planting grows and reinforces further the articulation of spaces. Importantly, the City of Playford has adopted ownership of the public realm and now vigorously protects the integrity of the design and its intent.
The Playford Civic Centre project is a highly visible project that advances the cause of contemporary Australian landscape design. By structuring forms and lines within the landscape, using local native plant material, evoking cultural memories and fragments from the early farming settlement of the district and involving the Client – particularly the Mayor, Councillors and horticultural staff – in the design process, a distinctive and well liked project has evolved. This project is also important in educating both the community and decision makers on low water use, environmentally sustainable design, and has proved a model for the development of other parks and civic places. This project has within it a sense of playfulness and confidence that reflects on the community itself and assists in changing some of the previous negative associations that the Elizabeth community held.
Oxigen were consultants to the City of Playford in the design of all elements comprising the public realm. Oxigen worked closely with the horticultural staff at the City of Playford who assisted in the procurement plant material, some of which is localized to the immediate Elizabeth district and had to be raised specially for this project from seed.
Budget: $350,000 (includes bus shelter and Playford Boulevard footpaths)
<< return to project page