The Sales Ring Playground has been designed to provide a playspace for children of all ages, where the long and rich cultural heritage of the Newmarket Randwick site is nurtured and celebrated. The playground is part of a new public park, Inglis Park, which has become the new heart of the suburb of Randwick.
First settled in 1860, the Newmarket Randwick site has a remarkable history of Randwick’s early days and the Australian thoroughbred industry.
The original sales ring sits under a 130-year-old Moreton Bay fig tree, witness to every horse ever sold on the Newmarket site. The Arcadia team saw the potential to repurpose the ‘bones’ of the sales ring, which was an iconic element of the site’s previous history, however not designated as a protected heritage item. The vision was to use the framework to create a suspended climbing and play structure, with a giant double-helix slide as the central focal point to take the structure into the next stage of its life.
The Sales Ring introduces an innovative play space to Sydney with elements which appeals to children of all ages, set within a design which creatively tells the precinct’s rich and remarkable story. Part of the design process was the significant research done by the design team, evident in the public art and interpretive play elements in the playground.
The playground connects users to the narrative of the site through a range of elements. The joy and excitement of the annual thoroughbred sales is celebrated by adorning the playground with the bright colours of the annual horse parade, the stud farms and the famous racehorses linked to Newmarket. An audio recording of a horse auction, recorded by the team at the last horse sale to occur on the Newmarket site in 2015, has been used in an interactive auction box play element.
The essence of the Sales Ring Playground is reuse and recycling, with the original structure peeled back, leaving the structural pylons and roof supports to suspend the play elements off the ground. Historic sandstone salvaged from the original kerb and guttering of Young Street, recycled brick paving and salvaged timber from the stables have been incorporated into the playground design, and the structure uses the original heritage colour of the Sales Ring, ‘Newmarket Blue’ by Dulux.
The playground has been designed so that children of all ages will join in and play. This ensures that large family and friendship groups will choose to visit as there is something which appeals to everyone.
The auctioneer’s box caters for toddlers under three years of age, with play features that suit their unique needs and stage of development. This area is set apart from the rest of the playground, to provide protection from the increased velocity of older children circulating through the play space.
The lower terrace provides for pre-schoolers with swings, tunnels, low slides and a carousel. The upper terrace, with its netting and climbing structures, suspended swings, timber walkway and giant double-helix slides, appeals to the older and more adventurous kids.
Children require a certain level of height and strength to reach the next stage without parental assistance. More daring children can be accompanied by their parents, who will find the play structures have been designed for comfortable use by adults as well.
Many of the play features are accessible by children all abilities, including the swings, swing baskets and carousel, should play, covered graphic wall, to ensure all children have the opportunity to experience the playground.
The Sales Ring playground is a regional-sized playground which attracts visitors locally and from afar. Set within Inglis Park with its seamless links to the adjacent food and beverage offering of the Newmarket Dining precinct, the playground design allows for visitors to support local retailers by providing a space where they can enjoy takeaway food and beverage items.
Visitors have a choice of seating with good supervision of the play area. This includes tiered seating within the framework of the playground, timber decking, dedicated children’s benches and tables for parties, seating under the fig tree and adjacent outdoor dining seating with polished concrete tabletops and timber benches.
If the Inglis Park has been designed to be the heart of Newmarket, then the Sales Ring Playground is its beating pulse. The success of the space is evident in the constant beat of children’s footsteps as they run through the structure and the screams of delight as they challenge themselves to take their play to the next level.
Landscape Architecture: Arcadia Landscape Architecture
Architecture: OCP Architects (Heritage Consultants), Bates Smart (Masterplan Architects)
Project location: 164 Barker Randwick, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Design year: 2017
Year Built: 2019