The Grange UFO playspace

, Westall, Victoria

Client: Kingston City Council

Type: Relax, Victoria, Placemaking, Playspace

Year: 2013

Staff: Katherine Masiulanis, Jason Isaks

On the 6th of April 1966, around 200 students and teachers at Westall High School saw two flying objects over their school in broad daylight. These objects have never been identified, although there is great consensus about their disc-like shape and silver colour. Observers do not say that they were alien, but that they were unlike anything they have seen before. One of the objects landed at what is now The Grange Reserve, and this playspace takes inspiration from their experiences to continue the story into the present day.

Designed in close collaboration with the Kingston City Council and Allplay, the playspace features a unique giant flying saucer, with control panel, slides and climbers. Blue LED lights around the perimeter make the saucer a local landmark at night, as they shine through the pine arboretum.

Also referenced is the bandicoot habitat that exists in the heathland in the reserve, with animal sculptures and complex treehouses, using recycled timber log posts and an existing tree. Being close to local schools, the equipment caters for groups to play together in the spinning egg and basket swing, and also in the extensive sandpit and creek bed. Freestanding climbing nets, swings, springers and giant track ride provide great physical challenges.

Amenity for carers and other playground users is fundamental to the design. A pre-existing shelter was retained, and another added centrally, with large picnic tables and a central lawn area for informal seating and babies. Long seats cater for larger groups, and skillfully selected planting provides material for natural play, colour and texture, and will provide further shade in future. The toilets were also upgraded as part of the works. Signage about the 1966 incident gives an insight into the events of that day, and the history of the site.

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"It makes you feel like people believe that it did happen. For years and years we were made fun of." Ms. Clarke Eyewitness