Bim’bimba Park is a nature-based playground at the Mirvac masterplanned community, Gainsborough Greens. The park had been planned as the last generous contribution from the developer to a flourishing community that has been established over the last 15 years. The park provides the final missing piece of the jigsaw that connects a network of carefully planned open space throughout the estate.

Before commencing the design significant research was undertaken by the team studying other benchmark playgrounds providing a similar regional offering in South East Queensland. Our team challenged the typical response of “off the shelf” products within a flat uninspiring landscape by studying the success and failures of these playgrounds and in particular developing a analysis of the recreational capacity and “bang for buck” of various key play elements. Key outcomes of the playground comparison analysis indicated a failure to provide genuine meaning with a clear united vision, the lack of a connecting thread binding the various elements together, failure to embrace the benefits of undulating landform, failure to attract and immerse parents into the play environment, and the lack of respectful integration of inclusive play opportunities.

With a well established community liaison team within the Mirvac structure our team was offered a ready made platform for regular community consultation, feedback and community desires in relation to their vision for the park. This feedback was embraced and integrated into the early conceptual development of the project and continued to provide strong direction through the design development.

The inspiration for the park was to further develop an already established common thread of nature-based elements and play explored in previous stages of Gainsborough Greens, embracing the raw and natural beauty of the utilised materials while championing the local awareness of ecology and sustainability initiatives within an inspiring play and vibrant community space.

The vision included a number of key initiatives:
To create a focal point or landmark that is undeniably associated with Gainsborough Greens providing sense of place.
To provide a clear and enticing arrival experience.
To define a unique / bespoke landscape response that embraces the natural essence of the site and instils meaning.
To compose a series of engaging play spaces and activities that provide opportunities for all group sizes, ages and abilities.
To spark imagination using sculpture, natural materials and creating intimate spaces where quiet reflective play can occur.

The play space is composed along a linear spine with a progression of challenging play elements. They meander through a forest of reclaimed timber totems, treated by a Japanese charred finish called Shou Sugi Ban. Commencing at one end with toddler play, the journey transitions along the spine through play elements that increase in challenge, culminating in the elevated and bespoke play tower inspired by the form of the Australian bottle tree.

The concept acknowledges children want to play together irrespective of their ability, which has led to 90% of the playground providing access for immersive and inclusive play. Defined pockets project out from the spine including a climbing tree, a timber forest with carved sculptures, sound play, and a teen hang, all imbued with a variety of interactive landscape features.

We sought to convey a sustainability message, that recycling raw materials can lead to sophisticated design outcomes. Using ameliorated site soils, mulch from cleared vegetation and timber elements from areas necessarily cleared, all reflect this mindset. For additional materials, durability was key. Materials in their rawest form were specified to reinforce this ethos. Metal is galvanised and unpainted, boulders are large and natural, and timber has perfect imperfections. The results show that costly materials are not always necessary to create an engaging play space.

Critical to the success of the park design was the way in which the client, consulting team, Council and suppliers collaborated with Form Landscape Architects to deliver the park. Council representatives were present throughout the construction process which was novel to this project and bore fruit in the end result that may pave the way for such involvement on future projects of this scale.

Critical to the success of the park design was the way in which the consulting team, Council and suppliers collaborated with Form Landscape Architects to deliver the park to seamlessly entwine the natural landscape elements with the fabricated proprietary play elements. Technical and logistical challenges were embraced with passion as we brought the design to life.

Beyond these technical and logistic triumphs associated with the project, residents and visitors identify as the custodians of a space which is both unique and connected to their surrounding environment.

Project location: Gainsborough Drive, Pimpama, Queensland, Australia
Design year: 2014-2018
Year Built: 2019


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