Arboretum Playground

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The National Arboretum Playground, designed by Taylor Cullity Lethlean challenges the conventional idea of play environments, featuring giant acorn cubby houses floating in the sky, and enormous Banksia cones nestled on the forest floor. Located in Canberra, Australia, the work takes it’s form from the Arboretum’s 100 forests of rare and endangered trees from around the world. The playground has been constructed to creatively engage children with the beauty of trees and foster life-long connections to the remarkable surrounding environment.

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The acorn play area features customized play items including portholes with insects, thunder sound panels, rain and hail tubes, wind chimes, kaleidoscopes, slides, ladders, sliding poles and rope tunnels, while boulder climbing walls sit below and include a clambering net and blackboards.

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A combination of Pinus macrocarpus timber battens and red cedar shingles clad a delicate steel finned frame – a clever structural solution put to TCL by Agency of Sculpture during the fabrication process.

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Australia’s weird and wonderful native flora is captured by glass reinforced concrete seed pods that are situated within a sand pit where toddlers are invited to dig, bury and make noise with bamboo chimes, bongo drums and a thongophone, whilst being sheltered by shade structures.

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The Playground entry was custom designed by Big Fish, creating an arrival point from the adjacent village centre while a secondary entrance includes a custom designed animal screen where children can identify the Australian animals within a seven meter long puzzle.

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Colours are kept to earthy autumn tones to allow a sensory experience through smell, texture, form and feel and all plant species are native except for one acorn bearing oak tree, growing to perform its role as the ‘story telling’ tree.

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A large custom designed fishing net and a bird’s nest swing set provide elevated views to the broader Arboretum, strategically placed adjacent to the Central Valley, where children can feel they are at the highest point of the Arboretum.

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The National Arborteum Canberra Playground demonstrates how a play destination can offer a truly unique and inspiring experience for children of all ages whilst meeting stringent safety standards.

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