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Chief Tammand's Playground
Located Near Madisonville, La., in Recreation District #14

Landscape Architecture by Joseph Furr Design Studio

Chief Tammand's Playground

Located outside the town of Madisonville, Louisiana, within the Coquille Parks and Recreation's main park, is Chief Tammand's Playground. The entire 135-acre park and the playground were master planned by Joseph Furr Design Studio of Baton Rouge. The playground was constructed in three phases and incorporates custom and stock play pieces from Landscape Structures, WaterPlay, No Fault Surfacings and Classic Recreation.

Chief Tammand's Playground

The entire playground spans one acre. Several meandering pathways and the surfacing under the play structures were constructed of poured in-place rubber safety surfacing.

Inspired by the local history, natural systems, culture and industry of the area, this destination playground, situated on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain in south Louisiana, tells the story of the Parish (Louisiana's designation for a county) from its beginnings through the 21st century. The playground is located within St. Tammany Parish Recreation District #14's Coquille Park, near Madisonville and was named after Chief Tammand, the Indian chief that Parish was also named after.

The goal of the project was to create something special, memorable and iconic in terms of the design, interactive-ness and appeal. Something more than another "out of the catalog" spot to play. The development of this one-acre interpretive play-space required full collaboration between the landscape architect, the local recreation district, product manufacturers and contractors, in order to ensure safety and quality of the play environment, while also developing something with an identity of its own.

This is "placemaking" at its best, because even though the final phases of the construction for the playground were just recently completed, the word is out and the playground has already become a destination for families to take their kids. The site creatively incorporates custom and stock play pieces from Landscape Structures, WaterPlay, No Fault Surfacings and Classic Recreation to create a wet and dry play area that interprets the roots of the local community; or "The Big Easy," as it is known in New Orleans, which refers to the easy-going, laid back attitude of life in that historic, jazzy area of the country.

Chief Tammand's Playground

The main centerpiece is a boat that rests on top of the tallest hill in the park. The hill symbolizes a large wave rolling under the ship. A Jacobs rope ladder was placed at the stern in order to recreate the effect of being a pirate and climbing aboard another ship. A subterranean tunnel system was built into the berm under the ship as well.

Chief Tammand's Playground

Interactive musical elements, like drums and chimes, were implemented at the base of the main hill on a musically themed walkway that highlights different instrumental notes stained on the concrete. This music walk harkens to the region's jazzy history.

The design, which interprets local landmarks in the surrounding area, like the "Jhanke Ship Yard Hill," the "Magical Springs Pavilion," the "Music Walk" and the "Madisonville Lighthouse," offer plenty of activities for the whole family. The presentation of the area's local history and culture creates both learning and play opportunities that are distinctive and memorable

The play experience of the playground is diverse and extraordinarily different than the norm in the area. A playground appropriate for children of all ages and abilities, it provides active and passive recreation opportunities and was sited to be along the park's primary walking path. The design incorporated custom, subterranean tunnels from the "water level" up into the pilothouse of the centerpiece, the wooden boat that sits atop the shipyard hill. Custom slides provide a quick trip down, either above or below, the symbolic water level. The Jacobs ladder allows kids to pretend to be pirates that are boarding the ship from below. Once they reach the top, they can roll down the face of the swell at the ships bow. These custom pieces were collaborations between the designers, playground, and safety-surfacing manufacturers, adapting catalogue components to match the design language as well as insuring that safety concerns were completely addressed.

The "Three rivers" paths meander through the pine forest and cypress/tupelo swamps, on its way to the lake; passing swings, sand play islands and gathering pavilions, including the St. Tammany pavilion, inspired by the 19th century natural springs pavilion, complete with its magic waters fountain. The musical instruments were grouped in a common area to allow for parents and kids to have their own impromptu "jam session", as has been done in the jazz and blues clubs of the region for over a century.

The thematic approach, along with ample play equipment and splash pad components seamlessly integrated together, provide a superior environment for public recreation.

As seen in LASN magazine, November 2018.

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November 18, 2019, 9:03 am PDT

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