It was announced this week that the Railway Park redesign won the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects’ National Award of Excellence for Play Spaces. The judges described the ‘Railway Park play space as “a sensitive and purposeful collaboration between the Council, the local community and the region’s Aboriginal community, the Arakwal People”,’ said a council spokesperson in a recent press release.
‘It’s great that the project is getting recognised like that. We are really thrilled that the park is being used really well by the community,’ Dan Plummer, who designed the park, told Echonetdaily.
‘The key is that the play engages the whole space – it is not just about the built element of play, it is the way that the overall space and play are integrated together.
‘Blending built and nature play with general park areas means that a space becomes multi-generational.
The cottonwood trees have occupied the heart of the of the park for many decades with generations of kids having climbed those trees, and we were keen to see that experience continued. The experience of nature and community is a really important thing in public space. Access to a space that integrates fun and nature and people is important for all communities.’
The park regeneration project wasn’t always smooth sailing for council with the controversial moving of the Byron Environment Centre (BEC) rotunda and the unauthorised removal of trees under former general manager Ken Gainger. However, Byron Shire Council’s Mayor Simon Richardson highlights that, ‘The revitalisation of Railway Park was an important project on so many levels and I am thrilled because it recognises many, many months of hard work and collaboration between the Council, the local community and the region’s Aboriginal community, the Arakwal People.
‘To receive national recognition for the Railway Park project is absolutely terrific news for Council and Dan Plummer, the talented local landscape architect who was engaged to design this project,’ says Richardson.
‘It’s been almost 12 months since we celebrated the opening of the new Railway Park with hundreds of locals turning out for an afternoon of music, catching up and to celebrate a project that was designed to breath new life into the old park which had been a gathering place for decades,’ he said.
‘One of the most exciting things was working with young Arakwal artists who designed magnificent images that were blasted into the paths weaving around Railway Park.’