Moncrieff Recreation Park is the newest multi-use park designed for Transport Canberra and City Services / Sport and Recreation Services. The Park functions as a colourful and well equipped multi-purpose facility for the whole community, that combines a range of sporting activities with play and recreation facilities, designed for all ages. The park was officially opened in December by Minister Yvette Berry. Over 500 people attended a highly anticipated and very successful community event, which opened the park to the public. Feedback from the client, as well as the wider community, has been overwhelmingly positive.
Redbox first raised the idea of incorporating a Community Recreation Park within the broader development at Moncrieff East at a Concept Plan presentation to the Suburban Land Agency Client, which was focused on the wider open spaces of the Moncrieff Ridgeline. Having presented this new concept to the group, we soon developed a strong view of the benefits of siting this facility in line with the Moncrieff open space ridgeline extending south, and linking to Taylor to the north, rather than off line which had no continuity or connection with the open spaces. The site area was originally too small to fit the proposed facilities. Redbox played a leadership role in articulating ways in which an innovative landscape design could redefine the open space, to incorporate a multi-purpose Community Recreation Park. The Suburban Land Agency supported this concept design. As a result, the unusual step of a strategic rezoning of the blocks was undertaken. This involved replacing a significant multi-unit site with open space – a shift which is unusual, but which has yielded significant benefits to new residents and the broader community.
Theming and Story
The design of the new Community Recreation Park was developed around the principles founded in Redbox’s theming and story specifically created for the broader open spaces of Moncrieff east. We were also motivated by fundamental objective to inspire the community to get out and get moving. The Moncrieff East Open Space design philosophy is strongly founded in the life and legacy of Australia’s “Queen of Song” – Gladys Moncrieff, as well as the Suburban Land Agency’s vibrant branding of sunset colours and linear marketing imagery. Gladys’s musical inspiration was the design theme for the nearby Hilltop Park, which was then further sustained in the Recreation Park, expressed in repeated design motifs throughout the custom furniture, pavement patterning, and structures. The conceptual thinking was expanded further in developing the Recreation Park, drawing on the simplistic and poetically powerful sculptural assemblages of Rosalie Gascoigne. The Recreation Park landscape, inspired by Rosalie’s famous, vibrant and colourful creations, reinterprets the urban landscape with rhythmic repeated forms and bold use of colour. This is exemplified by the vertical play elements, sculpture, wall art, and creative paintwork on the ping pong tables and learn-to-ride circuit.
The site is complicated by rocky substrate and steep grades, which were a challenging aspect of the landscape. However, Redbox identified these constraints early, and were able to develop a strategic plan that utilised these features as opportunities to create a vibrant and articulated series of terraced spaces incorporating play, kick-about, sports, fitness and amenities such as bbq’s and toilets. The original hill top was retained and sliced to create a combination of articulated mounds and retaining walls, with active and exhilarating play features, balanced by larger irrigated grass areas interspersed with sports activities, bbq’s toilets and fitness equipment, layered across the hilltop. The rocky site, whilst excellent for structural support, also presented challenges for the detail design of softworks. To safeguard future tree health, the design incorporated supportive growing conditions below ground with maximised passive watering opportunities. All site topsoil was stripped, sieved, ameliorated onsite and reused in dryland grass areas. The sieved material was respread as filter material above the rock substrate within the grass areas.
Landscape Lead Team
Redbox lead and co-ordinated the design team from the commencement of the project. Specialist consultants included Indesco (civil, hydraulic, structural engineer), Gordon Ahern and Associates (lighting and electrical engineer), Total Irrigation Designers (irrigation design), and Playground certification (Play DMC). The project also involved extensive Industry consultation for the delivery of numerous proprietary items and customisation of elements, necessary for the delivery of a considered design.
This foundational strategic thinking early in the design process, coupled with clearly identified goals and objectives demonstrated throughout the design process, enabled Redbox to engage the client and major stakeholder (Sport and Recreation Services), gaining significant buy-in to realise the original intent, and create a successful and memorable outcome for all. The primary goal for this project was to inspire Moncrieff residents and the wider community to participate in an active outdoor lifestyle. This has been demonstrably achieved through Redbox’s commitment to the early design criteria and creative collaboration with the Suburban Land Agency and Sport and Recreation Services, as well as our ability to co-ordinate and lead a multi-disciplinary team. As a result, this innovative, new Community Recreation Park has become a magnet for kids and parents with huge visitation on weekends, and after school, and often being frequented by neighboring school groups who cycle there during the week, validating the design process and the original design vision. The outcome is a widely-applauded project for the ACT Government, embraced by the wider community, and substantiated by extensive positive public opinion in online media forums.
Entrant office name: Redbox Design Group
Role of the entrant in the project: Landscape Architect
Other designers involved in the design of landscape:
Client Suburban Land Agency / Sport and Recreation Services
Indesco (civil, hydraulic, structural engineer),
Ahern and Associates (lighting and electrical engineer),
Total Irrigation Designers (irrigation design), and
Playground certification (Play DMC).
Play by design
Street and Garden Co.
Construction Contractor: Canberra Contractors
Project location (Street, City, Country): Corner of O’Keefe Avenue and Gussey Street, Moncrieff Canberra ACT Australia