Making Playground Upgrades Easy
Client: Penrith City Council Childcare
Making multi-space playgrounds work in a way that is developmentally appropriate for children who span a variety of age groups takes planning and forethought.
Meeting the strict deadlines to deliver the childcare centre playground upgrade works while prioritising child safety takes experience and dedication.
As research bears out, quality, engaging spaces for outdoor play have incalculable benefits for children’s health and development. Many childcare centre operators are rethinking their offering, upgrading childcare centre playgrounds with natural inclusions, more shade, and newer equipment.
As childcare services are in demand year-round, childcare centres have very small windows available for significant redevelopment – so timing and reliability are always key issues of concern.
As 2022 drew to a close, Penrith City Childcare approached Summit Open Space Services to update the playgrounds at two of their busy, existing sites, Gumbirra and Platypus Playground Centres, to create more useable outdoor spaces and provide a high quality nature play experience to a diverse range of age groups.
From the outset, the objective at both centres was to create more useable, light and contemporary play spaces. 2.7T and 5T Excavators were used to clear both sites. Traditional chemically-treated timbers were removed and local Gosford sandstone was installed, using the same equipment, to create a more natural, hardwearing and tactile experience.
At Platypus Playground Centre, which caters predominantly for 0-6 year olds, 72 lineal meters of sandstone billets, or sleepers, were used to create the retaining walls and tier the space. Many cubic metres of garden mix and playground mulch were added to the tiers, along with 24m2 of concrete stepping stones to create defined ‘play zones’ for the children. Two sandstone and hardwood sleeper bench seats were installed to provide additional seating options and double as spaces for imaginative play.
As the space fell within an internal court, all works had to be scheduled and delivered over the traditional Christmas break, to ensure the team could freely access the site without compromising on child safety.
Offering both an out of School Care service for 5-12 year olds, and a Preschool service for 3-6 year olds, Gumbirra Children’s Centre presented an additional challenge. Because the children who utilised the space had vastly different ages, the functionality of the space needed to change to suit their usage needs over the course of a day. After determining the site needed to serve each cohort of children, the Summit team set about creating the ideal multi-purpose space.
In addition to 76 lineal metres of new sandstone block walls, the team lay 18m3 turf underlay, followed by 110m2 Sapphire Buffalo turf, finished with 46m2 crushed sandstone pathways to make the space lush and inviting. In addition, they carved out a 103m2 concrete paved area to create a designated basketball and handball court for the older children to play organised games.
From the outset, the Summit team approached the project prioritising planning and effective project management for maximum efficiency and safety.
As a result of such focused planning, as well as teamwork, collaboration and open communication, the Summit team were able to deliver the upgraded spaces over the Christmas shut down period – ensuring each project was successfully realised, on time and within budget, without any risk to child safety.
Penrith City Childcare was thrilled the centres were able to be officially opened for business as usual following the Christmas period and ready to be enjoyed by the children on their parents return to work over the new year.