Aurora lights up a new focus
For many years we have left areas such as playgrounds wrapped in “bubble wrap”, not only to ensure they stick within stringent play codes but also to mitigate anything that presents a risk to children. Essentially, we are raising children with little awareness, children that form teens that take for granted that nothing can hurt them, and then we wonder why as adults they ignore the essential WHS practices… Are we creating a mindset?
The ability to create a playground or similar area that presents elements of risk, but in a controlled manner, not only caters for an essential feature in the development of the younger generations but also opens up a whole new area of creativity within these spaces.
Kidsafe®, an enforcer of play codes and child safety stated, “Children both need and want to take risks in order to explore their limits, venture into new experiences and for their development. Any injury is distressing for children and those who care for them, but the experience of minor injuries is a universal part of childhood and has a positive role in child development.” However many playspace designers are put off by the penalties associated with breaching codes. Instead they design a ‘playground shaped marshmallow’ that pushes no limits.
The Aurora Playspace in Wollert Victoria, designed by Spiire Landscape Architects for Lend Lease, is a spectacular example of combining controlled risk, unique play opportunities and fascinating lighting design to create a bespoke, artistic and highly interactive playspace. Creating such a combination takes the creativity of a truly remarkable design firm, motivated to push boundaries and develop the unknown.
The playspace is about allowing children to have the opportunity to prescribe how they play, make decisions and use their imagination. The playground is safe for children yet the ‘non-programmed’ play means that they can push boundaries and take risks within this environment.
With a vibrant and exciting mix of play, shade, solar energy, lighting and public art the Aurora entry statement truly pushes the limits of creativity in play and design, whilst including unique opportunities for intellectual risk awareness among children.
As a symbolic representation of the community in which it is in, the entry feature is modelled around the concept of an ‘Aurora’, with a very liquid flexible form, touching the ground lightly, intelligently engineered to be as subtle in the landscape as is structurally possible. At night the Aurora will come alive with a proprietary remote-programmed lighting system developed specifically for this delivery.
It isn’t about promoting dangerous play, wherein serious injury could come to children or others, but rather about including an element of controlled risk. The Aurora structure itself has incorporated safety elements which allow safe climbing controlled via metre-wide stainless steel planetoids. These are not large safety elements that take away from the visual appeal, instead the climbing inhibitor planetoids have a dual role as a reflective surface that distorts and morphs as you look into them offering a temporal and dynamic view of the space and its occupants.
The idea is one thing… the reality is another, at least that seems to be the case all too often. However through Fleetwood Urban’s DesignExecute model the vision is transformed into a reality. Opened on 30th April the Aurora playspace is a mirror of the architectural intent, including all elements of risk, creativity and sleekness… the perfect Aurora.