8 December 2023

Inner North can prepare to play: construction tender out for destination facility

| Ian Bushnell
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Inner North Play Space location map

The new play space will be constructed in Watson sometime in 2024. Photo: ACT Government.

It’s game-on for the construction of a multi-age play space for the Inner North after the ACT Government began looking for a contractor to build the destination facility in Watson.

A preliminary design from landscape architecture consultant Spiire was put out for consultation in September, and now the government has released a tender.

The play space will be built on the 22,000 sqm of green space adjacent to Canberra Technology Park and the Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE).

The multi-million dollar project will include multi-use courts, fitness equipment, skate facilities, a nature play playground, a sheltered barbecue area, seating, shade trees, amenity block, toilets, accessible car parking, on-street parking, garden beds, grassed open space, pathway lighting and services.

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The Watson site was selected over nine other potential Inner North sites because of its proximity to the Phillip Avenue light rail stop, the future Garden City Cycle Route, the Watson shops, and to complement a future park on Aspinall Street.

ACT Transport and City Services Minister Chris Steel said in September that the community had told the government they wanted the design to reflect the personality of the Inner North.

“Inspiration has been taken from the nearby Mount Majura Nature Reserve and its native Glossy Black-Cockatoo influencing the colour palette of the playground,” he said.

“We are also retaining the existing trees around the perimeter of the site and planting approximately 90 new trees.”

The tender documents show that the nature play space will include a giant tree house, bridge, various swings, balancing and climbing equipment, seesaw, agility trail, speaking tubes, music play and chimes.

Inner North preliminary playground design

The preliminary design for the major play space in Canberra’s Inner North. Photo: Spiire.

It will also have a combination of mulch and rubber surfaces with sandstone blocks.

The multi-use courts include a tennis court, a half basketball court, two handball courts and separate netball and basketball hoops.

AIE has promised to contribute to the cost of the two multi-use courts so it can expand and develop a new purpose-built campus to serve as its global headquarters.

The fitness equipment will include a pull-up bar, obstacle wall, battling ropes, dip and monkey bars, back ‘n’ abs, and agility circuit.

Tree species to be planted include a mix of native and exotic deciduous species, including brittle gums, she-oak, white oak, crape myrtle and crabapple.

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Community feedback showed strong support for inclusive and integrated play spaces catering to all ages and abilities.

The top three recreation facilities were children’s play equipment, trees and shade structures, but there was also significant support for bike and skate facilities.

The top three play opportunities for children were ‘nature play’, climbing structures and ‘water play’.

Toilets, seating and open green space drew strong support, with barbecues, picnic shelters, shared paths and fitness equipment a lower priority but still desired.

The tender closes on 8 February.

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