Green Beginnings Child Centre


Recipient: Greenedge Design Consultants

Client: Green Beginnings Child Centre

Project team: 

  • Green Edge Design (Greg Thomas)
  • Narelle and Andrew Whatham (Design collaboration)
  • DFS Group (Greg Thomas - Principal, Jason Collett - Landscape Architect)
  • Core Architecture (Building's Architects)
  • Construction: NCM QLD (Building)
  • Greenwood Landscape Management (Landscape)

Project address: 9 Innovation Parkway, Birtinya QLD 4575

“We believe our outdoor play space captures all things natural, engages the senses and invites the child to explore and discover. Our play space environment is seen as the ‘Third Educator’” (Narelle Whatham, Green Beginnings Childcare Centre Proprietor/Director). The playground is integral to Green Beginning’s commitment to rich learning and a responsive curriculum for pre-school children: it is a play space that inspires and teaches about the environment around us.

The design process drew upon a collaborative partnership between Greg Thomas and the Green Beginings Team. Central to the design concept is a ‘landscape dragon’, with its body parts providing a variety of play elements and opportunities: a fort representing the head enables a lookout over the entire landscape, while a bespoke slide is the dragon’s tongue. The ramp and the path depict the dragon’s curved body with a bamboo grove as the tail. Grouped oval platforms represent dragon ‘claws’ which children use as enormous jumping stones, art canvases, construction tables and islands for socialising.

Triangular shade sails provide an impression of the dragon’s wings. Additional shade trees and a vegetated arbor provide a sun safe environment. Elements such as the metal slide are orientated south to ensure year-round comfort and functionality. Due to its size a 6 metre high Port Jackson Fig tree was the first element brought to site prior to the construction of the centre. A seating deck added beneath provides opportunities for book reading and shady picnics.

The fort is the central element of the play space and can be accessed from all four sides. Stepping logs, ropes, a climbing wall and gently sloping timber ramp, offer a diversity of physical challenges for a variety of pre-school aged children. Climbing the ‘fallen tree’ or scaling the sides of the fort are activities that teach resiliency while taking risks. At the foot of the fort, a dry creek bed incorporating two timber bridges leads to a landscaped swale. This is an area that stimulates the curiosity of the children while being integral to the site’s stormwater management.

Two large sandpits, a mud kitchen and a large grassy area are linked by a loop path allowing for a variety of free play. The fenced vegetable garden containing herbs, vegetables fruits and flowers also adjoins the loop path and is framed by a custom timber arbor. Sensory planting includes fragrant herbs and trees, seasonal planting, textural native grasses and the sounds of ‘rustling’ bamboo. Coastal planting including Banksias, Tuckeroos and natives grasses frame an outlook to Lake Kawana, helping to anchor the playground to place and community.

The playground supports a largely unscripted array of opportunities for children to create, imagine and explore. The play setting inspires rather than dictates, and pursuits are initiated by the children, and enabled by carers.