Greenwood Rose Bay is currently in the final stages of construction – we’re looking forward to opening our doors for our wonderful families soon!
One of the standout features of this particular centre is its outdoor play area. Because the age bracket for this centre is slightly higher (2-6 yrs, rather than 0-6 yrs) we were able to create a more adventurous playground.
To bring this project to life, we enlisted the help of designer Matt Woods, who was the 2011 winner of the IDEA’s Designer of the Year Award. We chose Matt not just because he’s extraordinarily talented, but because he shares Greenwood’s passion for sustainability.
We caught up with Matt recently to have a chat about his design for Greenwood Rose Bay.
Hi Matt! Can you tell us a little bit about your design for the Rose Bay playground?
Sure thing. While I’m not a “playground” designer, I wanted to create something that improved upon many of the playgrounds I’ve seen – which have, in my opinion, a somewhat clumsy aesthetic.
I wanted to create an urban environment that was a resolved extension of the sort of places I loved playing as a kid… by which I mean any place I wasn’t allowed to play! It was those forbidden places which is where I wanted to be, so the forms and materials I used in the Rose Bay design largely reflect this.
Image: Playground 1 complete with bike tracks, grassy hill, suspension bridge, raised platform and slides. Access to this playground is from the Early Learners and Preschool 1 Rooms via the deck.
Image: Side elevation of Playground 1, incorporating shade sails and hanging canopy. The raised platform also incorporates a sensory play area underneath with suspended rope lengths and other natural textures.
How did you incorporate sustainability into your design?
All of the timbers throughout are reclaimed, which is a common theme throughout all my designs.
I’ve also tried as much as possible to introduce other natural elements, such as ropes, semi-permeable ground coverings, and grassy areas. There is a real focus on the creation of intimate areas that are garden focused.
Image: Playground 2 features railway sleeper stepping stones, log cabin style cubby houses and sandpit pods. Access to this playground is directly from the deck outside of Preschool 2 or via the gate separating both playgrounds.
Image: Inspiration for the cubby houses in Playground 2.
Is there anything from your childhood in your designs for Greenwood?
Most definitely. As mentioned, I got into all sorts of trouble in the places I played when I was growing up. One of my favourite spots was the storm water canal behind our house. And while I’m not suggesting we should be sending our kids into storm water drains, I loved seeing how far down a dark tunnel I could go before I got scared and ran back out…
At Greenwood I’ve introduced a tunnel connecting one side of the main play area to the other. It’s surrounded by sandpits and a soft fall race track. The tunnel also runs below what I’m referring to as a grassy knoll!
Image: Extension of Playground 2 incorporates quiet play areas in a shaded, planted grove. This section includes a dry creek bed with pebbles and a vintage water pump.
What keeps you inspired?
Lots of different things, but music is my biggest motivator. If I ever catch myself procrastinating it’s often because the office has fallen silent and it’s time to pick a new album.
New challenges also help to make my job more interesting! I’m constantly reinventing myself as a designer, and the Greenwood project was great as it allowed me to spread my wings and come up with some ideas that mightn’t have gone down so well in the restaurants and cafes I’m usually designing!
Image: Shade sail structure with canopy to create a rainforest garden.
What’s in the future for Matt Woods Design?
My business is hospitality focused, so new cafes, restaurants and bars are always in the works. 2014 was by far my busiest year so I’m also thinking about partnering up with another designer to share the workload around, plus I’m taking a well earned break in April & May to see what the Yanks have been getting up to architecturally!
Thanks for your time, Matt!
You’re welcome. ☺