Braithwaite Park Nature Play


Recipient: Emerge Associates

Client: City of Vincent

Project team: 

  • Phase 3
  • Nature Play WA
  • WA Structural
  • Kaiser Kuhne Play Equipment
  • Image credits: Ross Wallace Photograhpy and Emerge Associates

Project address: Cnr Scarborough Beach Road & The Boulevard, Mount Hawthorn WA 6016

Braithwaite Park Nature Play Area provides children with more opportunities than typical pre-formed playgrounds to develop gross-motor skills, provide the ability to contact with nature, stimulate children’s creativity and imagination, encourage ‘active play’ and learnt risk taking in an inclusive, designed space.

The existing park had large open turf spaces and significant Peppermint and Moreton Bay Fig Trees which were previously under-utilised. The landscape design brief was to integrate a nature play space surrounding existing trees to activate the parkland, whilst also providing an alternative play experience to the existing off-the-shelf playground equipment already present in the park. Key concern for the Client (City of Vincent) was to create a play space that was inclusive of children aged 10-14, a bracket many nature play parks fall short of.The integration of a flying fox and an elevated climbing net provides challenge and risk for older children, however the co-location and spatial design arrangements of these elements and other play items within the play space ensures smaller children can safely and simultaneously use the area.

For smaller children, elevated timber decking that is nestled around the existing Peppermint trees is connected with a rope bridge thus creating a platform for imaginative role play whilst providing the sensation of being within the trees. In addition, the play space incorporates mounds, tunnels, slides, water play and a nest swing to encourage children of all ages and abilities to be active, engaged and exploring.

The vast abundance of shade is a fantastic draw card for the project especially within the West Australian summer season as not only do the children play amongst the dappled light but the informal seating opportunities encourages parents and care givers to actively participate in the play experience with their children.

A cascading water trough leads to a dry creek bed which creates curious exploration and discovery for a younger age group. The dry creek bed evolves from an elementary to higher risk skill zone navigating across suspended logs. Gradually increasing the skill set and risk assessment within this zone encourages inclusive play for different age groups to play together.

The incorporation of strategic planting amongst the play elements has withstood the traffic of little feet! Careful consideration to plant species and placement subtly teaches children to have awareness of their surroundings, discouraging them from trampling the informal plantings. This notion of respecting the flora is further enhanced by the vegetation forming play elements, such as the bamboo encasing the steel pods.

Emerge Associates and Phase3 used a mixture of traditional and obscure materials such as panels of recycled wine barrels, various sizes of rocks, boulders and log stilts, which are readily accessible, inexpensive and maintainable. These materials allow for multi-ability play and learnt risk taking as children can test their boundaries by choosing a path according to their comfort zone. Nature Play reiterates that ‘play’ is non gender or background specific and can occur in any setting, not only within the confines of a prescribed playground surrounded by a fence.

Braithwaite Park Nature Play Area is enhanced by its co-location with surrounding and existing open space facilities. The park overlooks a large turfed open space as well as a dedicated toddler playground, toilets and a BBQ.

Playgrounds should be an inclusive place for all. Encouraging traditional play (swings and slides) whilst also creating spaces with no specific purpose to encourage imaginative play where the possibilities are endless. At Braithwaite Park Nature Play Area your imagination is the only limit.