Universal play environments must be accessible to everyone--mobility challenged children to senior citizens. In the second of our three-part blog series on inclusive play, Senior Project Manager Roger Burkart gives a well-deserved shout-out to The Play Brigade and shares valuable resources for designing universal and accessible public spaces.
It’s big, fantastical, otherworldly and whimsical! And it’s designed to be the grand centerpiece in the imaginary fairytale-like setting of Inspiration Playground in Bellevue, Washington.
Loosely modeled from a giant cedar, the tree takes shape rising 24 feet tall high, with 10 and 12-foot spiraling gold branches, dotted with randomly placed light accents.
A Wise Old Face
Carving art and faces into trees is commonplace but always a great find when stumbled upon. At Inspiration Playground, the face in the tree is artistically hand chiseled and carved. The face in the tree trunk is detailed and textured to look just like a subtly carved wood grain work of art, in this case, a wise old face.
What’s a whimsical tree without dramatic detail using fanciful lighting?! 10 strings of 204 ‘live node’ lights wind and weave around the branches to create a sensational visual appeal. The LED lights are programmable with variable colors, pulsing and contrast intensity. A light show can be programmed to complement events, holidays, theme or season. At night, it will glow and pulse creating a whimsical sculpture cutting through a dark sky.
From initial sketches and concepts that were imagined and created in the design studio of Design Concepts, the innovators and fabricators at IDSculpture were able to turn a concept into a constructible reality. Every detail of the tree has an artistic touch. From the tip of a spiral to the nose on the wise old face, both conceptualizer and fabricator alike took great care in each of the smallest of detail.
In the shop, the artists, craftsmen and fabricators of IDSculpture brought to life from the fantasy world of creative design and imagination. The tree is made of a propriety mix of concrete, PVC, rebar and steel. Solid cast concrete is topped with a hand sculpted topcoat layer—this is the medium to create the design texture and features of a realistic tree. Its base is anchored over 5 feet deep into the ground with reinforced concrete.
In the end, from idea, detail, artist or master craftsman, every part of the design and fabrication process highlights great innovators, idea-generators and collaborators. And this was only possible in the beginning when a great collaboration between the City of Bellevue and Rotary Club of Bellevue came to be.
All in all, the great majestic Whimsical Wisdom Tree comes to life today!
“Hey friends . . . We had a soggy and successful week up in Bellevue,” said Andy Dufford as he oversees the installation of the Canyon Boulders at Inspiration Playground. Yes, it’s another piece of the play + art story that includes the Canyon Waterfall that will lightly sprinkle water between two pieces of a granite boulder. Once a single form, the 5’ x 10’ boulder was sliced into large pieces—these are the canyon walls. Inside the playground, children will walk or wheel between the canyon walls with water cascading down. Working with us on this piece of play art located within the interactive water play area, Chevo Studios conceptualized the canyon concept. Fabrication required slicing the boulder in half lengthwise with a diamond wire saw, cutting 2.5’ of the end creating the flat base for the boulder to stand vertically. Then the boulder’s halves were cut into quarters to form the sides of the waterfall element, with the remaining half forming the dry side of the canyon wall. Cutting of the boulders took place on an open workshop site, and are currently being installed on site as the playground takes shape on these wet winter days in Bellevue.