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Te Manawa Playspace

The colour palette for the play equipment follows the vibrant Pacifica colour theme developed for the adjoining CBD Revitalisation Project...

Bespoke sculptural shells feature in Te Manawa Playspace

Isthmus has been working in partnership with Porirua City Council since 2014 to revitalise the city centre’s public realm to become an attractive, inviting and successful urban centre. Te Manawa Playspace brings fresh energy and identity as a key component of this wider revitalisation project.

Porirua city centre’s new name, Te Manawa, was gifted by Ngati Toa Rangatira to reflect its transformation. Te Manawa is a central place where many people gather, where their hearts beat as one. And at the heart of the heart, children have been given pride of place with a new bespoke destination playground.

The theme of the playground is Te Awa o Porirua (the Porirua Harbour), linking and reminding the town centre of its proximity to this vital water body. A series of small play spaces reference the tidal pools that form in the harbour. These small spaces are connected by a feature pathway and undulating granite walls and timber seat elements, which offer opportunities for balancing, stepping, jumping and clambering.

Te Manawa Playspace - a destination playground

The play experience draws on the character of the harbour and the foreshore themes that children identified with the most during the consultation process. The bespoke sculptural shells and play elements include tuangi, pipi, pupu, reeds and other sea life. This reflects the activities that took place on the harbour’s edge before the area was reclaimed and acknowledges the importance of kai moana as a food source to Ngati Toa. The sculptural shells were developed with artist Philipp Meier who modelled, prototyped and manufactured them in his Hawke’s Bay studio.

A bespoke canopy draws inspiration from the form of a whai (stingray); whai are a kaitiaki of local iwi. The whai glides above play areas casting dappled shade.

Redesigning bus shelters - promoting kindness and joy
Redesigning bus shelters - fun photo opportunities

The colour palette for the play equipment follows the vibrant Pacifica colour theme developed for the adjoining CBD Revitalisation Project (the red, orange and yellow of Resene Bullseye (cherry red), Resene Adrenalin (fluoro orange) and Resene Buttercup (bold yellow orange) respectively). This ensures a visual cohesiveness throughout the city centre. This colour palette used throughout the wider city centre has been complemented with additional bright colours – greens and blues – which reference the ocean and history of the site (the former harbour’s edge). This includes Resene Left Field (emerald green) and Resene Limerick (Irish green) for the ‘reeds’ throughout the play space and Resene Windfall (bold blue green) for a feature panel of the whai (stingray) canopy. The frame of the whai was painted with metallic Resene Blast Grey 3 (silver grey metallic), which gives it a special shimmer and presence. This references the glistening water of the harbour.

A bespoke canopy draws inspiration from the form of a whai (stingray); whai are a kaitiaki of local iwi. The whai glides above play areas casting dappled shade.

Playing at Te Manawa Playspace
Playing at Te Manawa Playspace

The vibrant Pacifica and harbour-themed colour palette is anchored by a neutral colour palette of various grey and brown tones and textures including Resene Quill Grey (soft grey) and Resene Foundry (shadowy charcoal) on the drinking fountains and light posts, which were used on various items of street furniture, and proprietary play equipment, to make them visually recessive. Resene Quill Grey was used on the swing set to ensure it remained cool to the touch in full sun. Even the litter bins were considered as part of the palette, painted in Resene Adrenalin and Resene Foundry.

The colour of the play space surfacing also references the harbour’s edge with grass and sand tones along the ground plane.

Playing at Te Manawa Playspace
Te Manawa Playspace in the evening

The play space is in close proximity to the harbour and receives sun for a large part of the day so the finishes needed to be durable. Resene Armourcote 220 with Resene Uracryl 402 or Resene Uracryl 403 topcoats provide optimum protection.

The new play space has been a hit with the community. As soon as the construction fences came down children swarmed onto the brightly coloured new play features. What was once a shady dark corner that attracted anti-social behaviour is now a vibrant part of the new high-quality urban context of the city. The Porirua City Council is justifiably proud.

This project won the Resene Total Colour Landscape Colour Maestro Award. The judges said “the seashore has come to ashore with over-scaled shells inviting young and old to play. The organic forms are welcoming, celebrated in colour, but not with the predictable seaside colours you might expect. Irresistible orange and yellow seashells are beacons to children. This palette is lively, fun and bursting with personality. Who wouldn’t want to play in a park like this?”

Architectural specifier: Isthmus
Building contractor: Downer Group
Client: Porirua City Council
Painting contractor – stingray canopy and seats: Ducare
Painting contractor – bins and drinking fountains: Urban Effects
Painting contractor – light poles and swings: Seaview Blasting
Photographer: David St George, Downer Group
Sculptural playground artist: Philipp Meier
Winner: Resene Total Colour Landscape Colour Maestro Award
Project: Resene Total Colour Awards 2019
From the Resene News – issue 2/20

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