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Milford Reserve Playspace


Bespoke Landscape Architects designed and managed the redevelopment of Milford Reserve Playspace in collaboration with Auckland Council.

Milford reserve

The playspace, located less than 100 metres from Milford Beach, was conceived as a series of different play zones located either side of a main path or spine connecting the existing shared path to a proposed timber boardwalk running along the car park interface. Intersecting this main path are flowing exposed aggregate concrete edge beams, which form trails children can follow to reach different zones of the playspace. A wide range of play experiences are catered for throughout the playspace, with colourful unprogrammed play features located adjacent to more traditional pieces of play equipment.

Pirate boat park

A key part of the design is the integration of a feature ship bow, designed as a shipwreck emerging from the sand dunes. The shipwreck informed the look and feel of various other pieces of equipment such as a timber crate scramble, a timber spinner, and a timber platform sand play station. These play elements resemble flotsam and jetsam, washed up on the beach.

The sandy, dune play adventure is continued into elevated areas of hardy native coastal planting – supported by sculptural timber retaining walls framing the playspace entrance. The playspace sees the completion of stage one of the overall site masterplan, also developed by Bespoke. Future design moves planned for the Reserve include reconfiguring the existing carpark and integrating two new timber boardwalks to connect the playspace to the existing toilet block and improve pedestrian access along the coast.

Play park

Inspiration for the colour scheme came out of a desire to add pops of colour to contrast with the largely timber material palette.

Bright colours were chosen to stand out against the muted greens and browns of the protected Pohutukawa trees. A colour palette of contrasting neon pastels was selected to move away from traditional primary colours.

The feature balance beam scramble, complete with painted sections, resembles a pick-up sticks game, with overlapping beams providing balance and seating opportunities along the interface of grass mound and planting.

Pirate boats and sail
Seating space

Rather than painting the whole beam, only portions of each glulam beam were coloured to keep the timber grain and pattern visible.

From 1929 to 1957, the reserve site was home to the Milford ‘Pirate Shippe’. The building itself was shaped like a ship, hence the name, and offered dance halls, a restaurant and tearooms. The design provides reference to this prominent icon from the past.

Resene Sonyx 101 waterborne semi-gloss paint was used on glulam timber stilts and balance beam scramble. Four contrasting colours were chosen: Resene Rapture, Resene Curiosity, Resene Nauti and Resene Biloba Flower. Painted sections of varying length were used to highlight the tops of the timber stilts, and horizontal sections were painted on the log scramble.

The existing memorial benches were refurbished and painted in Resene Wind Talker and Resene Transmission. A subtle nautical blue colour was chosen to tie in with the coastal context and history.

The custom purpleheart timber crate seats were finished with Resene Furniture and Decking Oil to enhance the natural rich colour of the timber.

Architectural specifier: Bespoke Landscape Architects
Building contractor: Greenscene NZ
Client: Auckland Council
Photographer: Amy Collingbourne, Lee Brazier, Bespoke Landscape Architects
Project: Resene Total Colour Awards 2018

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