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In 2015 PSLA landscape architects were engaged by Department of Environment Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) to develop a new $900,000 nature playspace at Morialta Conservation Park in South Australia. Construction was completed in August 2017.


The design team recognised from the initial site visit that the playspace needed to compliment and integrate seamlessly into a beautiful natural setting, which provided existing natural play experiences that could be connected, celebrated and legitimised for play. This was an opportunity to create a playspace that wasn’t constrained, but inspired children to explore independently, seeking wilder adventures and inspire imagination and ultimately childhood memories and foster connections to nature.


DEWNR undertook a children’s voice consultation utilising Minecraft to allow local children to create and visualize opportunities for play, which the design team could interpret and reflect in the design.


The design identified a series of 5 play nodes spread strategically within the reserve. The play nodes are inspired by nature and indigenous cultural narratives. The design team consulted with Kaurna Elders and local indigenous artist Allan Sumner to ensure authentic cultural themes were realised in the architecture and sculptures. These elements are scaled for children to interact with through active and sensory play, nurturing inquisitive minds and developing cultural and environmental understanding.


Node locations were based upon site analysis and a developed set of nature play design principles. Utilising existing natural play experiences and connecting them using the play nodes expanded the play value and destinations within the reserve. Subtle indicators of play legitimised spaces that would often be out of bounds allowed children to have a greater roaming area.


The design team ensured that each play node benefited from natural shade ensuring minimal root disturbance under the guidance of the project arborist. Sustainable design practice was also embedded in material selection using local timber & stone, ensuring that the play nodes sit sympathetically within the natural environment.


The project provides a new tangible perspective on how Australian families can reengage and connect with indigenous culture and nature through playful sustainable interventions.

2018 AILA SA Landscape Architect Award- Parks and Open Space
2018 AILA SA Award of Excellence - Playspaces





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