Urban Initiatives was engaged by the City of Darebin to undertake a design for a nature play space on a steep, contaminated former quarry and landfill site at Edwardes Lake Park. Site constraints necessitated design solutions which could be superimposed to minimise soil disturbance, while exploiting the possibilities offered by the steep topography for dynamic and passive play and education.
Urban Initiatives collaborated with elders of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung during Concept and Detailed Design phases of this project to ensure that cultural needs were embedded in the project from the outset.
The design is comprised of a series of spaces inspired by the characteristics of each zone as well as Wurundjeri stories and iconography. The spaces are linked visually and physically using a series of Corten steel elements, the largest of which is the ‘Rippa Rill’, a water-play feature which zig-zags down the descending bank side. Sloping areas are used for rolling, sliding, climbing, flying out over the slope on a swing, amphitheatre seating and a stage. Opportunities for enjoying the views offered by higher vantage points are also highlighted.
Flatter areas include a cubby framework for ‘loose-parts play’ and the ‘Mindfulness Maze’, a bluestone labyrinthine path harking back to the site’s history as a quarry. The Maze encourages concentration, and climaxes at a sound arch and an ephemeral art piece revealing the creator ancestor Bunjil at its centre. Consistent with the ‘Rewilding Darebin’ strategy, indigenous and native planting includes beds for foraging for interesting finds, as well as forests which call for exploration and provide vibrant seasonal effect.
This project commenced during the COVID-19 pandemic, so innovative methods of engagement for Wurundjeri, client and the broader community were required. Urban Initiatives produced a video which used cinematic narration to communicate the process, design and opportunities. The video was posted on the City of Darebin website and will be used to procure funding for the project. The project has been incredibly well received by the community and its construction is much-anticipated.
Darebin City Council