Busselton Foreshore Playspace, named Sea Play on the Bay, opened to the public on the 2nd November 2018. Sea Play on the Bay’s design was inspired by the city’s maritime history and coastal landscape.
2019 AILA National Landscape Architecture Award of Excellence
2019 PLA WA Park of the Year Award
The City of Busselton envisioned this play space as an iconic recreational facility in the core of their foreshore development, and as a major attraction for both regional visitors and the local community providing a variety of play activities for a range of age groups and abilities, day and night. The design was to draw from the local maritime and coastal environment to create an adventurousPlay Space consisting of a central dry play area and a wet play area, which were to include a tall clipper ship structure, associated marine and nautically themed feature play elements.
The proposed site was relatively small and set within an existing foreshore area. Design constraints included size of site, existing infrastructure and services, shallow groundwater, existing mature Norfolk Island Pines, an exposed site anda modest budget for the ambitions of the project. Careful site planning was required to seamlessly integrate the unique play facility with anticipated high visitation numbers, into an already developed area. The design had to balance robustness with finesse to address harsh climatic conditions and high usage while meeting the lofty aspirations of the client.
Our response to the brief, which envisioned a traditional seaside playground, was to challenge conventional concepts through the dynamic arrangement and orientation of the key unique bespoke elements designed and documented by PLANE. This created a different perspective to the play experience and a greater sense of adventure, fun and engagement through imaginative play. The play ground was designed to respond to the five primary senses, being vision, audition(hearing), somatosensory (touch), vestibular (movement and balance) and proprioception (relative position of neighbouring parts of the body and strength).
3D graphics were used during the design and documentation process to resolve construction details and clearly convey the design intent to the client for their approval.
The clipper ship is the centrepiece of the Dry Play Space. Resembling ships that frequented the Busselton Jetty in bygone days, it is positioned on a precarious angle as if negotiating treacherous seas. This perception is reinforced by the adjacent“bow wave” deck and the giant partially submerged squid and whale which appear to be thrashing around the plunging ship. The ship is a highly interactive play element offering a wide range of activities including a climbing net, ships wheel, telescope, cannon, anchor seat, packing crate climbing boxes, ladders and decks. Exploration and discovery are encouraged in and around the ship, including scaling the mast to the crow’s nest. Level changes within the ship combined with multiple access points creates play zones. Play equipment in the Dry Play Space provides physical challenges including swinging, climbing and balance as well as creative play and educational learning.
The WetPlay Space features a gigantic whale tail “shedding water” as if it has just flicked out of the ocean. This imaginative water play element is set within a non-slip blue concrete surface and is designed for low water use. With no standing water, Department of Health approvals were not required.
Rope, granite rocks and timber are used in various forms to reflect a maritime environment. Well resolved construction detailing combined with extensive use of steel provides sturdy, durable playground elements appropriate to the climatic conditions and intensive use. Earth mounds covered in large granite boulders provide scrambling opportunities and create spatial definition and vertical relief within the site without compromising surveillance and visual connection with the surrounding landscape. A gentle grassed mound formed against a section of the playground provides a slightly elevated lawn area offering views to the beach and over the playground.Recycled wharf timbers create an elevated jetty from which the clipper ship appears to have departed, providing a direct reference to the historic Busselton Jetty visible from the playground. Perimeter seating is provided through several sinuous, organic shaped low insitu concrete walls that form part of the playground edge, with bespoke designed timber platform benches set further back beneath mature Norfolk Island Pines. Good overall surveillance has been considered to discourage anti‐social behaviour.
The playground is designed for night time use, with special effects coloured lighting adding a magical quality that enhances the visual appeal of the playground as a sculptural element within the landscape, as well as meetingAustralian Standards for night use.
The design intent of the facility as a collection of physical and visual ‘maritime stories’ encapsulating the spirit of Busselton and providing a multidimensional framework in which the community can play, engage and grow has been successfully realised.