One World for Children – Outdoor Refurbishment

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This blog tracks the refurbishment of the outdoor play space at One World for Children in North Geelong. We will be updating construction images and notes as to how the works are progressing. The first area is now complete and finished images can be seen on the project page here.

The Garden Consultants were engage to design a refurbishment for the children’s outdoor play area at the One World for Children. The centre is lucky to have a large outdoor space with huge possibilities and a natural setting on the other side of the back fence from which we can draw from. The stone lined sandpits and a lone shrub are the sole survivors in the much loved and used playground catering for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.  This unique child care facility is filled with light and brightly coloured art. Management at the centre decided the outdoor play space should match the newly refurbished interior of the centre.

The design brief for the centre was based on two main drivers, ‘Experience’ and ‘Form’. The experiential elements in the garden are the primary focus, engaging all the senses of the children.  The forms also needed to be simple and accessible to the children and promote imagination and creativity in play. Abstract shapes and natural elements such as rocks or logs were chosen for their huge potential for play and creativity. Children also learn negotiation, expression and other social skills through the process of commandeering and re-purposing equipment and play spaces. Engaged children are happy children. The guiding ethos behind the design is that children come with inbuilt creativity, curiosity and a desire to learn and play. The refurbishment of the outdoor play area is intended to provide an environment that gets out of the way of and celebrates this natural process.

Extensive planting is also planned for the space, hardy plant varieties are a very important factor with all the little hands and feet running around. The planting needs to offer more though, with a range of textures, colours and fragrances chosen. This project commenced construction in mid November and is due for completion by mid February 2015. More images are available on our One World for Children album on Facebook, follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with this and all of our other projects.

After our initial meeting we worked collaboratively with centre management to devise a master plan for the redevelopment of the garden. Information can be found in the design document the centre management have been happy share online: 10013 – One World – Master Plan Document Final. To help communicate and collaborate we set up a Pinterest board to share ideas, images and precedents with each other.


Update 27/02/2015

Construction has finally come to an end and the garden is ready for the children to explore. The plans got a final makeover in the last fortnight as we removed some more of the existing concrete to allow more space in the triangle garden. We were able to incorporate a new performance area and extend the Sheoak forest. With this stage of the project complete we can turn our attention to the kinder area garden which we have now been tasked with refurbishing. We have had so much fun creating these garden spaces and the activities for the children we can’t wait to get started on the kinder garden. For more images of the finished Day Care area garden click her to go to the project page


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The great ‘reveal’ took place at a special open day at the centre on the 22 of February. Over 250 people arrived to inspect the garden (despite the sweltering heat on the day) and went away thrilled to see such an engaging children’s space. It was great to see so many children and adults exploring all the different areas of the garden and testing out all the new activity areas. 


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The Sheoak forest and new dramatic plat backdrop/shelter woven out of tea tree and a salvaged rope had the wonderful effect of unifying the garden space in the final section of the garden. Removing the preexisting concrete really allowed this area of the garden the space it needed. 

Update 11/02/2015

We are in the final stretch now with the final section fenced off and work well under way. Portions of stage two opened and the children have been exploring and having a great time. The log balancing/climbing structure has been a huge hit and the giant chimes also very popular. The sand softfall area has become a feature of its own with the children and carers playing in their own private beach, minus the waves.

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There was a massive rush to the new natural log climbing structure once the work fences had come down. I think all the children at the centre were located along it just after opening. 


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The new slide mound is complete other than the installation of the slides which are still being manufactured locally. As with all the elements in the garden we have tried to make the experiences of the children as varied as possible and enable them to interact with a range of materials where possible. The steps up to the slide mound are a great example of this with each step made of a different style of paving. 

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The giant chimes have been ringing out throughout the day as the children make their own music on what is a unique and sculptural element in the garden.

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Scale is very important in designing for children. While this bamboo maze is only just planted and grown ups can see across the top, children are immersed in the pathway and this feeling will only be enhanced as the bamboo reached maturity. 

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The rear lawn area has been completed with fruit trees and a cottage style herbaceous border planted out. This garden is a more passive place in the centre designed for picnics and crawlers not active sports play. The owner of the centre was able to source a delightful seat for the space which will have a native climbing plant growing up through the bars.

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The final areas are now under construction including the triangle deck, a tree walk, a shelter for a performance space and a small forest. 


Update 30/01/2015


Progress on the refurbishment has hit overdrive in the last week with so much of the new playground emerging from the ground. The gazebo has been constructed and is now awaiting the new custom built sculpture which will adorn the top. Unfortunately due to the complex nature of green roofs, and the short time frame we have to work with, we have decided to shelve those plans until the possible redevelopment of the kinder area at the centre. The natural timber balancing frame has really come together and the bamboo maze is also taking shape. The new slide mound is towering over the worksite and is just about a work of art in its own right.


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After the holiday break it is back to all hands on deck. The work crew from Ocean Road Landscaping have been exceptional in their dedication, skill and friendly nature with the children.


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The bamboo maze is taking shape, once these grow they will provide an amazing immersive experience for the children to move through.


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The natural log balancing structure has been assembled and the sand fall area is getting wheeled in. We have left the bark on the vertical pieces for the children to have a variety of textures in the garden. The bark will eventually drop away but the children can enjoy it in the mean time. 


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The slide mound is being constructed. There is a lot of stabilization work involved and compaction to make sure the mounds stays where it should with hundreds of little feet climbing over it all day. The landscapers have been using a great deal of skill and knowledge to create this, along with a clear eye for aesthetics – very well done. This mound will be planted out and have two steel slides attached. The two slides are being manufactured by a Geelong based firm, keeping the work local. 


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With the removal of the prefab play equipment and a superfluous concrete area we have had room to construct a small gazebo which will have a sculpture on top with the sides made up of a water play wall, a circle seat swing and some chain and log balancing equipment.


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A sneak peak of the sculpture for the roof of the gazebo, with my small prototype model sitting underneath. This is a work in progress shot but we are very happy with the work that Austeng, our steel fabricators, have been doing. This amazing seat swing has been custom made by local artist Cinnamon Stephens  



Update 11/01/2015


Section two of the construction works are well underway. The wave deck is just about complete and the old play equipment (much to the horror of some of the children) and some of the concrete area are being removed to make way for several new features. After discussions with centre management the scope of work has expanded to include two new features, a green roof gazebo/shelter and a mounded area which will be home to new slides. These features made from natural materials, in place of the plastic and steel play structure, will really enhance and unify the space.

The plans for this section include some giant chimes, a water play wall, balancing equipment and a steel birds nest seat currently being constructed by a local artist. To compliment the dry creek bed the introduction of a green roof on the gazebo will give children and parents the opportunity to learn about sustainable use of water in our changing climate.

Plans for the new section can be viewed here: Stage Two Plans One World For Children.


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To assist in the design and communication of the project we have been making some small scale models throughout the process. The above two images are of the basket seat for the green roof gazebo and the fallen log climbing area.


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Out with the old… The old metal framed plastic play equipment and the concrete circle are making way for a natural styled mound for slides and planting and a green roof gazebo. The children were not amused to see the slide come down. 


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The sun tunnel has been placed in the garden and the light coming in through the holes is working its magic on the inside of the tunnel as the sun moves over. A bit squishy for grown ups but the kids will have a ball.


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The Wave Deck is almost complete and the undulating surface has been finished and detailed beautifully by our brilliant landscape team. 


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The fit out of the mud kitchen is almost complete with the addition of the oven, a stand for the water container and some perspex screens.


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We have been able to source the timber for for out log climbing equipment. These logs used to belong to a tree growing in a nearby street that came down in a storm last week. You can’t get a much more local or sustainable product than that.



Update 16/12/2014


Section one of the construction works are now complete and the children have been giving the new play area a great workout.

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When the construction fences came down the children came running. 

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The dry river bed didn’t stay dry for long with a big queue forming to work the hand pump and get some water flowing. 


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The circle deck is a more contemplative space which can be used for reading and quieter games. The light in the morning floods through the perspex panels illuminating the deck with coloured lights. In the afternoon the sun shines though in the alternate direction making coloured patterns on the path outside the deck.

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Joining the circle deck and the TeePee is the tunnel walk with 15 tubes filled with all sorts of goodies for the kids to look at and investigate. Providing smaller scale details such as this compliments the larger more solid elements in the design and can really engage the children.

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The TeePee is planted out with grape vines which will grow and cover over the steel frame creating a unique green room for the children to play in.

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The Mud Kitchen has proved another big hit with the kids. With a dedicated mud trough and three sinks some gourmet mud pies are being created.



Update 01/11/2015


As part of the design phase we produced a range of 3D models to help management and parents better understand various design elements.



Sun Tunnels (inspired by the work of Nancy Holt)



A steel frame which will form the basis for a living TeePee when covered in climbing plants.





A circular deck and tunnel path for the children to walk run or crawl through.




An undulating wave deck to explore and maneuver through.



This project blog will be updated regularly throughout the construction of the garden. We will be uploading images on our Facebook page if you want to stay up to date with the progress: One World for Children album. If you would like to come and check out this project there is an open day on the 22/02/2015 from 11am – 3pm. We would love to see you there.

If you would like to know more about this project or would like to discuss children’s garden designs feel free to contact us here or use the contact form below.