Inspired by the abundant national parks, nature reserves of the ACT, the team at Blanc Space delivers a rich, inclusive play experience for families, supported by high-impact aesthetics & functionality for all customers luxury Australian Shopping Centre.
Garden City is a combination of ramps, levels, and surfaces designed to encourage children to run up, around, and through the play area. Centred around the abstract play structure the theme is based on typography levels with striking natural colours. The flooring design encourages movement whilst tying all the play elements together to create the urban play landscape for children. Siting approximately 1.2m high the Garden City-themed junior play structure consolidates a wide range of play activities with design empathy to sightlines for surrounding retailers and ease of supervision.
As part of Canberra Centre’s redevelopment, we were to apply our design philosophy and tailor a playground for the Centre's new Youth Precinct. The nominated area was narrow, featured low ceilings, expansion joints, and the presence of an adjacent escalator entrance with heavy foot traffic. In addition, the playground needed to be constructed within a short timeframe due to the decommissioning of their existing.
Our design challenge meant quickly delivering a fun playground into an existing location to increase customer dwell time, that would aesthetically represent our client’s premium brand whilst being safe and durable for children to be children.
Blanc Space's philosophy towards playgrounds is centred on 'Non-prescribed Play’, employing sculptural abstract elements to spark children's imagination along with Play-Inspired furniture to encourage parents and carer givers to join in on the fun. The materials and colour palette depict the balance between its playful yet calming nature. Capturing the Garden City theme, we’ve repurposed LED modules from the previous playground to form an informal barrier with interactive LED seating and Ficus Elastica filled planters.
The end solution is an open play area for children, governed and safe from its surroundings for families to all play, charge and relax.
Garden City has elevated the quality of play for the unsupervised indoor play sector. Steering away from the model of 'Contained-Play' where traditionally children have been prescribed a closed play path, we have introduced playful solutions to assist in children’s development fit-for-purpose within the commercial environment. By carefully placing abstract surfaces in a mixture of materials we have created thought-provoking play opportunities for children to question and find multiple ways to interact and play. Building on their cognitive, motor, and social skills, play is used to encourage creative thinking and problem-solving.
Importance was placed on the playground’s retail environment. We studied and storyboarded our design concepts, considered the surrounding stores and amenities, analysed the existing user-flows, then drafted the impacts of introducing new user-groups with the goal of retaining the existing.
This led to key features such as Pram-Parking integrated within the perimeter seating to prevent obstructions. Customed shaped seating to create a safe boundary and govern the flow of traffic with the help of planter and backrests. USB charging points incorporated into the seating for parents, caregivers, and existing users we earlier recorded using the location as a meeting point.
Inside the playground, we included elements such as our Musical Pebbles acting as giant play blocks for children or regular ottomans for all. Our ‘Calming Igloo’, heavily foamed and upholstered to create the perfect place for children to hide away from the noise, along with other upholstered elements throughout serving both as tactile play opportunities and sound dampeners to accommodate the surrounding tenants. By placing Bouncing Reeds at one end, grounded by coloured floor graphics we encourage active play and movement throughout the space without causing visual obstructions for parents wanting to sit and supervise from the adjoining café.
A case of function before form, as play quality, safety, and children’s development drove the design of Garden City. Drawing positivity feedback, smiles, and laughter, families illustrated the design was easy to understand and the philosophy of ‘None-Prescribe Play’ was further validated as children were finding new and creative ways to play and interact with the space. The UX design for perimeter seating with its additional elements too was validated, as users would flow in, out and around the space as intended, creating the safe zone for children to freely play and do what children do.
When designing for children safety is of the utmost importance. Delivering an unsupervised playground into a retail environment with heavy foot-traffic solidifies and places safety at the forefront throughout the entire process. UX scenarios were drawn, assessed, and refined to create the custom seating and planter perimeter arrangement. This included items such as pram-parking, shoe cubbies, entrance signage, and a singular opening to mitigate the flow for both the safety of playground users and surrounding shoppers.
Both the design and construction went through a series of audits to comply with Australian Standards, ADA regulations, and both fire and electrical codes.
As part of our environmental policy, Blanc Space devised a design matrix to assess and validate our solutions. Where possible we use locally sourced materials with inherent properties such as those that can be recycled or reused, long lifespan, and of high quality to eliminate failure. For example, Garden City's flooring and platforms are composed of recycled rubber, along with repurposing LED modules within our furniture to create interactivity along with giving the modules another lease on life.
By partnering and employing local Australian fabricators, our aim was both to reduce our carbon footprint along with empowering Australian manufacturing.
With our client QIC, Garden City illustrates to the retail environment the mindset shift towards using opportunities such as this to raise the quality of play to encourage children's development as part of giving back to our community.