“The colour palette selected was picked for its ability to be both vibrant and sophisticated...”
The community group ‘Sandringham Project in Community Empowerment’ (SPiCE) lobbied the Albert Eden Local Board for an upgrade of Sandringham Reserve, which was a seldom-used and bland park in the centre of the Sandringham Shopping Centre.
As part of the brief, an artist-led outcome was sought, to pick up on the diverse, multi-cultural nature of Sandringham. Three artists were selected to prepare concepts, and from these, Katy Wallace’s concept design was chosen.
The design team then worked with Katy to develop and detail the design in a way that spoke to the colourful and ‘handmade’ character of both the shopping centre and wider suburb. They wanted the colours to be vibrant and distinctive, but not in an overly dominant or gaudy manner.
A base palette of bold Resene Chilean Fire (vibrant orange), Resene Mandy (pink red), Resene Flash Point (fire red), Resene Bahia (lime green), Resene Limeade (tangy green) and Resene Witch Haze (clean yellow) are interspersed across a range of playground elements, from the tyre snake and bridge to the stepping logs, posts and fence. Most areas are finished in Resene Lumbersider low sheen, with Resene SRG Grit added on the stepping log tops for added slip resistance. Tree stakes were stained in Resene Woodsman Pitch Black (tar black). The black look was continued onto the light poles using Resene Vinyl Etch and Resene Armourcote semi-gloss in Resene Nero (blue black).
The colour palette selected was picked for its ability to be both vibrant and sophisticated – teaming well with the recycled native totara battens of the fences and the sculpted robinia timber of the main play element. It was designed to evoke an easy sense of fun, with the colours reflective of picnic blankets and table throws.
The bright pinks, oranges and yellows also took inspiration from the vibrant colours found in the ethnic eateries that give the town centre its character, and these are offset by more natural greens and yellows which help ground the colour scheme in the landscape.
The fibreglass-topped picnic tables and concrete ‘rugs’ underneath these continue the colour theme, using patterning from the local Pacific Island communities.
Sandringham was formerly a swampy area notable for large stands of Cabbage Trees, and referencing this history the children’s picnic table features an enlarged Cabbage Tree flower painted in Resene All Black (deep black).
The most challenging area to paint was the tyres. The ongoing flex as the tyres are used puts enormous stress on paint finishes. These have been finished in Resene Membrane Primer and Resene Lumbersider. These two products will flex with the tyres, though it is expected they will need refurbishment earlier than the more rigid structures.
The playground was on a busy street corner necessitating that a low fence was required. The design sought to reimagine this element from a utilitarian structure to one that integrated well with the rest of the design, and draws the eye to the Reserve. The playground safety auditor raised concerns on site that the fence could present an ‘impalement risk’ where it was next to stepping stones. This was resolved by incorporating a slab ‘leaner’ seat, a feature that has proven to be very popular with parents.
This project won the Resene Total Colour Landscape Maestro Award. The judges said “Bringing together the colours and culture of the community, this colourful playground brings back favourite playground memories from childhood. Fun but not brash, the palette has a nostalgic feel that appeals to young and old. The careful scattering of colour is lively but not overpowering, the perfect energy boost for playing. It's a retro delight.”
Architectural specifier: Dave Little and Claire Liesching, Auckland Council design team
Artist: Katy Wallace
Client: Albert Eden Local Board
Main contractor: Greenscene
Other key contributor: SPiCE community group, who surveyed the community as to their needs, and compiled the brief
Painting contractor: Worthingtons Painters
Play equipment: Playground Centre