Serving as a prelude to future embellishments, the Magical Forest at Bradbury Park is an imaginative children’s nature play space located in northern Brisbane.  The space has been sensitively constructed within an existing grove of mature trees and offers an infinite source of adventure for children, the local and broader community. 

The brief to design, document and construct a nature-based playground at Bradbury Park through clusters of mature Melaleuca and Waterhousia trees called for a considered design response composed of simple elements that wouldn’t overpower the natural qualities of the site, while offering a high play value to construction cost ratio

Through the lens of a child, features of the site were reinterpreted with exaggerated imagination to establish a vision of a miniature kingdom full of diverse geographical and mythical features. This strong and interconnected play narrative was the foundation for establishing a unique playground identity promoting social interactivity.  The result is a ‘choose your own adventure’ play experience without a beginning or an end.  

At Bradbury Park, a balance of static and transitionary spaces is provided and constructed via a palette of raw, natural and multisensory materials. Local artists working with timber, bronze, cast iron and stone were engaged to bring the play narrative to life ensuring continual surprise and discovery for children.

With conservation a focus, each and every tree within the play space was retained, while footing design and structure placement was fine tuned to facilitate a play space amongst numerous overlapping tree protection zones. Recycled timber logs and stone features heavily in the design, while a restrained waterwise palette of plants also ensures an understory of greenery is sustained from rainfall alone.

The Magical Forest at Bradbury Park is a significant contribution to the local and broader community. The play space has been incorporated into the local kindergarten’s program and offers young families a comfortable, safe and stimulating option for nature play.

The Magical Forest is a significant demonstration of sustainable construction and landscape conservation. It also showcases innovation through creativity, both from a design point of view and ingenuity perspective, as the team had to constantly adapt to the new realities of designing and delivering a project during the COVID-19 lockdown period in Brisbane.

Paul Prendergast
Associate Director