Unusual & Unexpected Places to Play #1 – Stawell Steps


This is the beginning of a series I’m going to blog about on incidental or playable places or spaces for play. I think this is worthwhile to get a greater sense of  ‘affordances’ and their value to play and to think outside the box about play opportunities for children, beyond the limits of traditional playgrounds.

I’m going to begin with a project very close to home. A country town called Stawell in North-Western Victoria, Australia on the banks of the Cato Park Lake.


This award winning project was a design studio for Monash University Architecture students (who constructed the project) and Japanese Artist Hiroshi Nakao in 2013 and aims to replicate the erosion caused by tidal flows – collapse and construction using the common house brick. It is however much more than that….its a wonderful environment for play.

Architecture Australia sums up the reasons why in its article . One must climb onto it and into it and small surprises abound. A perfect description of any playable space worthy of children’s attention. Not designed specifically for play the brick structure affords opportunities to explore the complex niches finding just the right one to read, sun bake, snooze or a million other things people will dream up. Play included.

Jumping, hiding, sitting, balancing, climbing, and hanging out with friends are just the beginning.

The critical terms here are small surprises and complex niches.


Reference: Enabling Play Friendly Places by Jenny Donovan,  Environmental Design Guide 87 August 2016