A Natural Play Haven in Australia’s Biggest City
In one of Melbourne’s most historic parks, a new era of play has emerged with a stunning custom timber treehouse.
Lincoln Square in Carlton is home to Melbourne’s first public playground, with surrounding Moreton Bay Fig Trees creating a natural oasis in the urban hustle-and-bustle of the city.
The City of Melbourne began a revitalisation of the park in 2019, first by expanding the park by 3000m², then by commissioning the play experts from KOMPAN to design, manage and deliver a ‘treehouse’ and nature play concept.
Specially engineered to protect root zones of the heritage trees and immerse children in the canopy, custom designers worked closely with council landscape architects to bring the idea of a treehouse into reality with Robinia timber, a thrilling rope bridge, twisting slide and climbing ropes.
Accessed by a raised platform to protect the ground underneath, natural timber play units for younger children compliment the play towers to create an enriching nature play experience for all ages.
In 2023, this play area won a Landscape Architecture Award in the Playspaces category at the Victorian Landscape Architecture Awards.
“Carlton is one of the fastest growing areas in our municipality, and playgrounds like this one are vital for the many young families who call Carlton 'home.' By expanding and improving our greenspaces, we’re helping to ensure Melbourne remains a highly desirable place to live, work, and visit.”
Dr Olivia Ball, Health and Wellbeing portfolio Councillor for City of Melbourne
Rich play in the heritage tree canopy
The custom tower structure touches lightly on the ground with concrete-free footings (for root zone protection and natural shade from trees) and is constructed from sustainable Robinia timber. Using this wood means the cabins will develop a beautiful aesthetic over time, giving the structures a softer appearance that seamlessly blends with the natural landscape. This natural transformation also encourages children to connect with nature while they play within this zone.
The structure’s thrilling netted treetop walkway is intended to harmonise with the area's landscape, allowing views of the tree canopy through the transparent design. This walkway not only develops spatial awareness thanks to its nets but also allows interaction with peers or parents from a lofty vantage point.
One of the towers boasts a tunnel slide, providing a thrillingly swift and fun descent to the ground, while the other end offers an exciting rope-climbing structure as an enjoyable alternative.
Surrounding the play towers is an elevated pathway, which meanders through and around the play area, ensuring accessibility for children. Moreover, it allows visitors to get up close to the magnificent trees and interact with them without causing any harm.
Other nature play activities include logs, timber steppers, and a small play hut for toddlers ensure contact with the beautiful surroundings and plenty of excitement for all age groups.
PhysicalJoy of movement: motor skills, muscle, cardio and bone density
CognitiveJoy of learning: curiosity, understanding of causal relationships and knowledge of the world
Social-EmotionalJoy of being together: teamwork, tolerance and sense of belonging
CreativeJoy of creating: co-creation and experimenting with materials
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