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13.08.2021 - Ausgabe: 4/2021

Bim’bimba Park in Australia – durable playground equipment for a sustainable playground

© Berliner Seilfabrik GmbH & Co.

In the Gainsborough Greens Estate, in the suburb of Pimpama in the Australian state of Queensland, a special park was opened in December 2019. Bim'bimba Park is at the heart of the community and was designed to become the central connecting element in a network of different open spaces throughout the estate around the Gainsborough Greens Golf Course, tying the residential area into the adjacent nature reserve. 

At its centre, a varied and nature-inspired playground was built that offers plenty of climbing opportunities for young and old alike. 

The intention behind building this park was to use the raw and natural beauty of the landscape to create an inspiring play and community space that raises local awareness of ecology and sustainability initiatives. Therefore, the topic of sustainability was a key focus for Form Landscape Architects in the planning and design of the park.

In order to address this aspect, mostly recycled materials were used. The processed wood and mulch, for example, mainly originated from waste generated during construction activities in the region. Wood that had to be sourced from beyond the site was left in its most natural and rawest form possible and not additionally processed. The metal, which was mainly used for the playground equipment, was powder-coated without the use of solvents. 

The highlight of the park is a 14-metre-high climbing tower manufactured by Berliner Seilfabrik, equipped with two different slides at different heights. The bespoke play structure is inspired by the Australian bottle tree, whose striking form is characterized primarily by a particularly thick and bulbous trunk. 

“In order to obtain the concise shape of the trunk of the Australian bottle tree, eight posts were bent into the appropriate form,” says Marius Kotte, head of Berliner Seilfabrik’s design and development department. “State-of-the-art bending machines enable us to bend tubes up to 133 mm in diameter and with a wall thickness of 10 mm in-house, thus meeting customer requirements in the best possible way.”  

To complete the look of the bottle tree, transparent steel panels were installed in the upper part of the tower, with a milled pattern showing the foliage of the bottle trees.  The wall elements on the other levels are either covered with a fine-meshed steel net, thus ensuring a high degree of transparency, or they are clad with bamboo panels. "By using bamboo, we have not only managed to give the climbing tower the desired natural look, but we have also taken up and implemented the idea of sustainability of this special place,” says Mr. Kotte. Botanically speaking, bamboo is a grass and not a tree. The advantage of this is that the giant bamboo used grows up to 30 cm a day. This means that the ecological footprint of bamboo is many times smaller. In addition, bamboo panels are more hard-wearing and durable than wood. This saves resources and follow-up costs.

These two factors play a major role. As with the climbing tower in Bim'bimba Park, the company mostly uses bamboo instead of wood. The fact that Berliner Seilfabrik not only thinks green but also operates with sustainability in mind is reflected, among other things, in the company’s certification to the ISO 14001 standard for environmental management systems. The company has also been awarded the BSFH seal of approval for tested competence, sustainability and quality. 

Two access nets provide direct access to the bamboo climbing tower, leading climbers through a narrow opening onto a first and close-meshed planar net level. From here, you begin to ascend the tower via a huge spatial net. On your way up, you will repeatedly come across rubber membrane mats, which are incorporated into the spatial net and offer an ideal opportunity to rest and relax. Those who make it all the way to the top will once again reach a level made of planar netting and can enjoy a splendid panoramic view. A tunnel slide made of stainless steel then provides a rapid descent.

The almost 35-metre-long net tunnel provides another exciting way to access the tower. Between a total of 20 partly sloping posts, the tunnel of close-meshed nets runs in a wide curve rising from the ground to a height of 4.70 metres and is directly connected to the tower here. Halfway through the tunnel is a tree house made of bamboo panels, which can also be reached via a rope ladder. 

Those who prefer horizontal climbing will get their money's worth on the exciting low ropes course with a total of nine different climbing elements. It is more than 30 metres long and offers multiple levels of difficulty to accommodate all skill levels. This makes the playground attractive for different age groups and provides opportunities for the younger ones to develop and improve their skills.

A combination of different swings rounds off the playground at Bim'bimba Park. In addition to a nest swing, which allows several children to swing, play and have fun together at the same time, the playground also offers, among other things, two toddler swing seats.

Matt Franzmann, Principal and Managing Director at Form Landscape Architects, is pleased with the work and the result. “Community commitment and cooperation with an interdisciplinary team were crucial to achieving what we believe is an exceptional park and playground experience,” Franzmann writes on his studio’s website. 

As the icing on the cake, Form Landscape Architects won an award for this exceptional project in the Parks and Open Space category at the annual AILA Queensland Landscape Architecture Awards, presented by the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects. The judges were impressed, stating in their citation, among other things: “This project reflects a very well executed and impeccably detailed hub of play and recreation for the Gold Coast Community that is rich, exciting and detailed in its story. It is underpinned by simple design principles that respond carefully to its setting and deliver a range of spaces for active play and recreation.”

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