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playful for picnics

Kesterton Park Community Project

The colour scheme for the huts reflects the colours of Sydney Harbour and acts as a visual link with the Vivid Sydney Festival, held annually in May-June.

Kesterton Park Community Project

Initiated by Zena O’Connor, the aim of this community project was to use vivid, saturated colour to revitalise two picnic huts in Kesterton Park and in doing so, highlight the role that colour can play in transforming and revitalising the urban environment. Research indicates that colour encourages interaction and engagement, and a playful, saturated colour scheme was used for this specific purpose.

The picnic huts hadn’t been painted since the 1980s and were in need of an upgrade: they looked neglected and uninviting. The appearance of the huts discouraged community engagement and detracted from the park’s magnificent location on Sydney Harbour.

The park’s eastern edge is directly adjacent to the North Sydney commuter ferry wharf and the park has extensive harbour views to Neutral Bay, Vaucluse, Rose Bay, Darling Point, Double Bay and Woolloomooloo. The park’s north-western edge will eventually connect with Sydney Harbour Trust’s Platypus site via a proposed walkway.

Kesterton Park Community Project

The popularity of Vivid Sydney, an annual Light, Music and Ideas festival, provided the impetus for this community project. The colour scheme for the huts reflects the colours of Sydney Harbour and acts as a visual link with the Vivid Sydney Festival, held annually in May-June.

The Supergraphics design for the picnic huts was based on the International maritime flag signal code system used since the 1850s. Each picnic hut panel was painted in the maritime signal for ‘O’ (Oscar) and this design motif was used to reflect both the popularity of sailing on Sydney Harbour and acknowledge the activities of a working harbour.

Kesterton Park seating areas

Two colour schemes were designed, one for each picnic hut. The colours were inspired by yacht spinnakers, Jacaranda blossoms and the surrounding natural landscape environment. Resene colours selected for this community project were Resene Adrenalin (fluoro orange), Resene Havoc (pure red), Resene Smitten (fuchsia pink), Resene Happy (bold yellow), Resene Left Field (emerald green), Resene Point Break (clear blue) and Resene Fuchsia (red violet), all in Resene Lumbersider. Resene Lumbersider was chosen as it provided maximum durability in all exposed conditions, a prerequisite for the harbourside location of this project. As well as its durability, this waterborne paint also reflected the need for an environmentally responsible, low VOC paint.

Kesterton Park colours

A key issue for this community project was securing approval from North Sydney Council and support from the Sydney Harbour Trust. Some municipal councils in Sydney have been reluctant in the past to approve vivid, saturated colours in urban areas, and a detailed evidence-based rationale was submitted to North Sydney Council. Approval was granted and the project also received the support of the Sydney Harbour Trust, which plans to use the park as an access point for their extensive neighbouring Platypus site in the future.

Kesterton Park picnic hut

The Kesterton Park Community Project won a Resene Total Colour Landscape Colour Maestro Award. The judges said: “Taking inspiration from the environment, this project embraces the colours to the harbour that laps gently at the shore. Like follies in a garden, the bright colours draw you in to picnic and enjoy the spaces. For those passing through they are an uplifting shot of colour to brighten the day. So often these spaces are left grey and uninspiring, but this project shows they can be so much more with the help of colour.”

Client: North Sydney Council
Colour selection: Zena O’Connor, Master Painters Association NSW
Photographer: Zena O’Connor
Other key contributor: Sydney Harbour Trust manages Platypus, one of their key sites on Sydney Harbour (which is planned to connect with Kesterton Park) and supported the project
Winner: Resene Total Colour Landscape Colour Maestro Award
Project: Resene Total Colour Awards 2017
From the Resene News – issue 2/2018


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