Small parks and playgrounds throughout the residential areas of Sydney provide essential green open space and a diverse range of play opportunities. The City of Sydney (CoS) is completing an extensive program of upgrading the quality and amenity of many of its small parks.
Renwick Street Park was identified for upgrading because of old or non-complying play equipment and poor basic amenity. The project goal was to achieve a sympathetic refurbishment of the park infrastructure, facilities and landscape to provide a high quality public open space and playground.
Corkery Consulting was engaged by the City to provide full design and documentation services for the upgrade, which included regrading, drainage, recycled brick path, timber boardwalk, seating decks, refurbished seats, boundary fencing, signage and planting, installation of playground equipment and creation of nature play opportunities.
Reopening of the Park by the Lord Mayor of Sydney in November 2016 was celebrated by community event at the Park. Council conducted a comprehensive program of community engagement that included on-site meetings and an on-line forum for community input.
Graphics prepared by Corkery Consulting for the community engagement included 3-D images of the park upgrade, concept plan, cross sections and photos of examples from other comparable parks.
A comprehensive site analysis was carried out that included a review of existing playgrounds and recreation opportunities within 400m of Renwick Street Park to identify the play opportunities currently available and any gaps that could be filled by new facilities in the Park.
The site analysis included preparation of shadow diagrams to ensure that seating was provided in shaded areas in summer and the central lawn area received sun in winter.
Great care was taken to retain and protect existing trees by following the recommendations of the arborist engaged by the City. A section of timber boardwalk supported by screw piles was incorporated in the pathway design to protect tree roots.
The site assessment by a specialist environmental consultant indicated low level of risk of potential contamination provided the recommended precautions were observed. The heritage assessment carried out by AHMS provided valuable information on previous site uses that influenced the selection of materials and provided content for interpretive signage. Results of the research and site analysis were incorporated in the Statement of Environmental Effects prepared by Corkery Consulting.
The overall design concept was to create two distinct functional areas in the Park, with play opportunities in the southern portion and open lawn in the northern portion. Recycled sandstone blocks and integrated timber decks are used to define the lawn area. The timber decks provide for multiple uses including play, impromptu performances, sitting, picnicking and sun-bathing.
Pedestrian movement through the Park is provided by a path along the western side connecting gates on Renwick Street and Jennings Street. The path incorporates recycled brick paving and a section of timber boardwalk. A new boundary fence is installed to prevent children climbing over it.
The use of natural materials, informal seating and clambering on sandstone blocks enhance the nature play experience for children and carers using the Park.
The local community was involved in the selection of playground equipment that is primarily for use by younger children. They include a climbing structure, swings and other elements that provide for play and development of physical skills and encourage socialising.
The Park is also used by young people as a venue for social interaction together with parents and carers accompanying younger children. Success of the upgrade has been confirmed by very positive feedback from the community.
Views in to the Park from adjoining streets and residences are maintained to provide passive surveillance that contributes to child safety. A playground safety audit was carried by an independent auditor and the design modified as necessary to ensure compliance with safety standards. New landscape planting was designed to complement the retained trees. Deciduous Crepe Myrtles to provide shade and colour in summer and sun access during winter. Native grasses and shrubs were planted around the perimeter of the turf area.
Sustainability measures included use of recycled bricks for paving and recycled sandstone blocks from Council’s depot to provide informal seating and a natural play opportunity for children.
Intelligent investment of resources was achieved by working in consultation with the City-engaged cost planner, with regular cost reviews to allow the design to be adjusted where necessary to stay within budget.
Renwick Street Park Upgrade
Project Team |
Corkery Consulting – Lead consultant & Landscape architecture
Northrop – Civil & Structural engineering
Urbanac – Planning
AHMS (Extent) – Heritage
Fiona Robbe – Play design advisor
Images | Corkery Consulting + City of Sydney