Valley Reserve Sparc

Project Name: VALLEY RESERVE SPARC

Recipient: Playce Pty Ltd

Client: City of Monash

Project team: 

  • Kersulting (Structural Engineering)
  • Play DMC (Play Auditing)
  • Play Evolution (Specialist custom play equipment contractor and engineering)
  • Adventure Plus (for Flying Fox)
  • Landcon Landscape Solution (head landscape contractor)
  • Agency of Play (King Parrot and Powerful Owl)
  • Romanis Trinham Collaborations (Black Cockatoo and Long-neck Turtle)

Project address: Valley Reserve, Mt Waverley VIC 3149

The Valley Reserve SPARC is a ground breaking playspace that is the culmination of a significant strategic plan implemented by the City of Monash. The SPARC in your Park strategy focused on the redefinition of play and intergenerational active recreation and community spaces across their municipality. SPARC is an acronym for Social, Playful, Active, Relevant and Connected spaces. Valley Reserve is the pilot SPARC project, and then delivered based on 5 core principles which was developed following extensive and expansive community engagement. This included directly engaging with over 400 people including primary and secondary school children, friends of group and local residents.

A key theme from students in particular was for less prescriptive climbable tree houses and adventurous play ropes.

Other relevant comments included;

  • Don’t want the playspace to be “safe”, our children need to manage risk!

  • A combination of social and natural areas

  • Play for the adults ‐ not just exercise

  • An adventure area, something that challenges children and adults

  • Having more challenging tasks or play equipment for older people

The resultant playspace is consciously respectful of its bush context to ensure it adds to what is already a beautiful natural setting. Located in an existing lawn area of this bushland reserve, the main focus of the playspace is a sea of majestic Cypress Macrocarpa posts that signify a clearing in the forest both figuratively and physically. Uncompromising in their grandeur, these “trees” and the houses and nets they support, challenge adults and children of all abilities, gender and background to test themselves, be active and have fun. The space challenges participants to overcome fears, embrace the perceived risk and how to identify ones limits. Importantly it is completely un‐prescriptive in nature, forcing the users to test themselves and appropriate the space accordingly and use their imagination.

To complement the main climbable tree houses and ropes course, we created a naturalized dry creek bed and sand area focusing on education and nature play. Climbable interactive sculptures of local wildlife are also placed strategically through the space as are a flying fox, swings and slides. Importantly we focused on local made and sourced materials for the majority of the play space. This ensured a completely unique play experience for those using the space and actively encourages intergenerational participation (adults more comfortable ‘playing’ in an adventure course than kids playspace). It is testament to the commitment of Council that managed to actively redefine what “play” can be to ensure intergenerational participation.

Valley Reserve is such an important project, to show that bespoke, custom unique play environments can be created and are critically important both for the end users and industry as a whole. Given the final budget of the playspace including amenity (BBQs, shelters) was $600k. It highlights this customised unique approach to play provision doesn’t have to be cost prohibitive.

Overall the primary focus of Valley Reserve is to drive interest and enjoyment in this spectacular space for all ages, ultimately experiencing nature and essentially… come for the play and then spend the day in the bush.

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