Bradbury Park Magical Forest

Parks & Open Space

 

LOCATION

Brisbane, Queensland

CLIENT

Brisbane City Council

COLLABORATION

Naturform

STATUS

Completed

AWARDS

2021 QLD AILA Landscape Architecture Award for Small Projects

2021 National AILA Award of Excellence for Play Spaces

The Magical Forest at Bradbury Park is an imaginative children’s nature play space located in the northern Brisbane suburb of Kedron.   The space has been sensitively constructed within an existing grove of mature trees and offers an infinite source of adventure for children with the local and broader community.  The play space is specifically focused on children between the ages of 2-8, however intrigue and delight can be found by all who enter. 

In March of 2020, Brisbane City Council commissioned Naturform landscape contractors and Form Landscape Architects to design, document and construct a nature-based playground at Bradbury Park. The brief called for a considered design response composed of simple elements that wouldn’t overpower the natural qualities of the site.  A balance of static and transitionary spaces needed to be provided and constructed via a palette of raw, natural and multisensory materials. Also required was an overarching narrative to guide play, promote social interactivity and establish a unique playground identity. 

Through lens of a child, the design team reinterpreted features of the site with exaggerated imagination and established a vision of a miniature kingdom full of diverse geographical features. High points in the site were imagined as snowcapped mountain peaks.  Low points were imagined as sandy, treasure riddled beaches.   Overland flow paths were seen as ravines and rivers of gold which who’s alignment defined the boundaries to diverse kingdoms of curious creatures. The result is a ‘choose your own adventure’ play experience without a beginning or an end.    

With a detailed and creative play narrative in place, an exhaustive search for objects, trinkets, sculptures and materials was undertaken.  Local artists working in timber, bronze, cast iron and stone were interviewed and engaged to provide the numerous animals, fairies and objects which bring the play narrative to life.  The concept of delivering a mythical play script and executing it with natural materials and subtle placement is one that ensures continual surprise and discovery for children.  Children can engage with this play space for hours at a time. 

The Magical Forest is also a significant demonstration of sustainable construction and landscape conservation.   Each and every tree within the play space was retained.  Working closely with the structural engineer and Arborist, footing design and structure placement was fine tuned to facilitate a play space amongst numerous overlapping tree protection zones.  An emphasis was also placed on the use of natural and or recycled materials in the execution of the design.  Recycled timber logs and stone features heavily in the design.  A Restrained waterwise palette of plants also ensures an understory of greenery is sustained from rainfall alone. 

The Magical Forest at Bradbury Park is a significant contribution to the local and broader community.  The play space has been incorporated into the local kindergarten’s program and offers young families within proximity a comfortable, safe and stimulating option for nature play.   The park also serves as a prelude to future embellishments at Bradbury Park