Canberra Destination Play Space Audit

Project: OtherResearch

Description

Background
The City to the Lake Project aims to invigorate and transform Canberra by developing world class, connected, vibrant, sustainable, inclusive and green places for Canberrans and visitors alike (Strategic Urban Design Framework, ACT Government, 2015). The West Basin Waterfront development is a crucial component of the City to the Lake Project – bringing the city to Lake Burley Griffin by creating “a vibrant destination, where people meet, celebrate and have fun”, and which supports the broader vision of Canberra as a “truly sustainable and creative city”. (West Basin Waterfront website; ACT Government Sustainability Policy 2009)
Global research on the role and importance of play spaces demonstrates that designated formal play spaces such as playgrounds are central to achieving these aims. As public spaces that unite the built and natural environments, playgrounds can contribute in significant ways to site activation, to health and wellbeing, to innovation in design, to inclusivity and community building, to a city’s unique identity and cultural heritage, and to the development of an active, vibrant, sustainable and liveable city more broadly. (City to the Lake Play Space Study, 2017)
More specifically, the play facilities at West Basin can:
• activate the currently under-utilised West Basin site and enhance the economic and environmental viability and sustainability of the site;
• provide fun, safe, active, accessible and green play facilities that encourage diverse groups of people to make the city centre their home and/or a repeat destination;
• enhance the liveability and vibrancy of the city more broadly through provision of unique play space facilities that add to community, tourism and cultural heritage value
West Basin has a unique opportunity to design play space facilities that contribute significantly to the success of the West Basin development. This research project aims to inform the design of the play spaces with evidence based data on the current ‘state of play’ both with Canberra destination playgrounds, and with best practice and innovation in play spaces Australia and worldwide.
Aims and Outcomes
The ACT Government is committed to evidence-based and community consultation approaches to future planning (The ACT Sustainability Plan, 2009; Territory Plan, 2010; Canberra Social Plan, 2011). This Project aims to inform the design of the West Basin play facilities with an Audit of Canberra’s key destination and city playgrounds that combines a facilities audit with community surveys on playground usage and attitudes to Canberra destination playgrounds.
The Audit, combined with our previous research on best practice in Australian and international playgrounds will:
• Inform the planning of play facilities to enact the vision, place principles and objectives of the City to Lake Project Strategic Urban Design Framework, and the Principles for Sustainable Development in the Territory Plan;

• Identify those features of play facilities that offer unique appeal at West Basin to Canberra publics both as a viable visitation site and as part of Canberra’s vibrant and distinctive cultural heritage;

• Engage Canberra publics in this process through community feedback on usage and attitudes toward Canberra’s current destination playgrounds
The data from the Audit can also be used as a resource for ongoing maintenance and development of play spaces in Canberra more broadly.
Audit Outline
The Audit aims to provide the West Basin Project with data on 8 key destination playgrounds and 3 key city playgrounds currently in operation in Canberra. (See Appendix 1 for a list of these playgrounds.)

It builds on previous research undertaken by the Play, Creativity and Culture Project for the ACT Government which was tasked with producing:

• Auditing Framework for Canberra Destination Playgrounds
i. Detailed play equipment, activities and amenities audit form
ii. Face-to-face playground usage survey

• International Benchmark Play Space study
i. Role and importance of play spaces in contemporary urban environments
ii. Best practice and innovations in playground design (national and international)

The auditing tools are designed to provide the ACT Government with comprehensive data on current destination and city play spaces, including:
1. Playground Facilities:

• playground type;
• play equipment;
• play surfaces;
• associated amenities;
• accessibility and inclusivity;
• demographic target market;

2. Playground Usage:

• levels of usage;
• types of play activities;
• motivations, enablers and deterrents for playground use;
• attitudes toward playground;
• perceived benefits and deficits of playgrounds in Canberra more generally
Audit method
1. Observational audit and face-to-face survey
Detailed data collection of available play facilities and amenities; observation of playground usage and activity types; on-the-spot surveys of usage patterns and attitudes to play facilities.


2. Online playground questionnaire
The online Canberra destination playground questionnaire will serve two key purposes:
i. To collect supplementary attitudinal and usage data on Canberra playgrounds;
ii. To extend community engagement in Canberra destination playground audit beyond fieldwork research
The online questionnaire will be distributed via relevant ACT Government channels and open for 6-8 weeks (January to mid-March).
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date11/12/1730/06/18