ASPECT Studios: The Ian Potter Children’s WILD PLAY Garden by ASPECT Studios was officially opened in October 2017 by NSW Minister for the Environment, Local Government and Heritage, Gabrielle Upton. Located within Centennial Parklands Learning Centre, WILD PLAY is designed as a learning experience for kids of all abilities aged 2-12. Its botanical adventure covers 6,500 square metres (roughly the size of a rugby field) with tracks and trails winding through densely planted mounds of shrubs and trees, with existing fig trees incorporated for seating and shade. WILD PLAY lets kids adventure through an artesian water basin of creek beds and fountains, tunnel their way through thick bamboo, navigate a balancing course in the form of an ‘eel’, snaking its way around fig trees, or cross a swing bridge and test their mettle climbing a treehouse.
“Kids like discovery, challenges, movement and adventure. They thrive on being in nature – playing with water, climbing trees, jumping through puddles, hiding in trees. We know this instinctively as parents, and as designers we build these observations into our work,”
says Sacha Coles – ASPECT Studios Director and UTS Adjunct Professor. “The bamboo forest, banksia scrub and caves are about hiding, being engulfed, ducking and weaving. The water play is about immersion, relief, joy and surprise. The treehouse is about the sublime – delightful terror! Pushing yourself to the limit of comfortable risk. And the tunnel is about imagining becoming a burrowing creature!” Three years in the making, WILD PLAY was created with support from the Ian Potter Foundation, whose Children’s Garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, has been a popular drawcard since opening in 2006, attracting 207,000 visitors into the gardens in 2016 alone. A shared goal between the Foundation, Centennial Parklands and ASPECT Studios is to promote innovation and excellence, with a focus on community health and learning, and in particular – encouraging active, inquisitive kids.
Project Title: Ian Potter Children’s WILD PLAY
Location: Centennial Parklands, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Client: Centennial and Moore Park Trust
Project value: $4 million
Landscape Architect: ASPECT Studios
Builder: Design Landscapes
Additional consultants: Sam Crawford Architects,
Cave Urban, Fleetwood
Urban, Lindsay Dynan