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Queenston Park, Coquitlam, British Columbia
Playground Design by Greenway Landscape Architecture, Paul Whitehead; Coquitlam Park Planning/Design Staff; Habitat Systems; and Marathon Surfaces; Play Equipment by Landscape Structures

Photos: Landscape Structures, Inc.


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The 34-degree hillside and its 4.5 meter grade differential was the main playground design challenge at Queenston Park in Coquitlam, British Columbia. The city park staff worked with landscape architect Paul Whitehead (Greenway Landscape Architecture), playground designers from Habitat Systems, safety surfacing designers from Marathon Surfaces and the playground equipment manufacturer (Landscape Structures) to custom design inclusive play equipment and surfacing suitable for the topography.
Photo: Landscape Structures, Inc.


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The wiggle ladder bridge and loop climb are among the challenging conveyances to the top of the hill.
Photos: Landscape Structures, Inc.


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The large hillside net, rope pull, wiggle ladder bridge and loop climb were custom play pieces manufactured by Landscape Structures.
Photos: Landscape Structures, Inc.


Queenston Park, located in the Smiling Creek neighborhood of Coquitlam, British Columbia, is one of metro Vancouver's newest destination playgrounds. Coquitlam (pop. 126,840) is about 19 miles east of Vancouver.

Opening in April of 2016, this hillside park draws people from across the lower mainland looking for some adventurous play. Surrounded by grassy areas perfect for picnics and a 10-meter long hill slide, families will often stay for hours to enjoy this park's features.

The Queenston Park location in Coquitlam certainly presented challenges for the playground designers. Incorporating the site topography into the play experience was a key design consideration in the conceptual design work, according to city park planner Wai-Sue Louie. The site offered a 34-degree hillside with a 4.5-meter grade difference. How do you go about designing a playground for such a space? First, the city and design team had to accept the reality of the existing hillside and the rather narrow, limiting site space into their design thinking. If you've got a hill, use the hill to your advantage.

City park planners Wai-Sue Louie, Eric Bowes and Dave Parks worked with landscape architect Paul Whitehead of Greenway Landscape Architecture of Vancouver, B.C., to finalize the concept that would provide opportunities for integrated play among varying age groups and physical abilities. The city park planners worked with Greenway Landscape Architecture and Habitat Systems to detail and refine the play area design and its components. Habitat Systems is a supplier of commercial grade park, playground and landscape equipment in Western Canada, and has worked extensively with schools, school districts, landscape architecture firms, community groups and municipalities on their park, playground and landscape projects.


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The lower playground area, a relatively flat space, features brightly colored play structures. The 2-5 years old element (right) includes a small slide, a curving ladder climber, a deck of modest height and a shaded play table. The 5-12 age structure (left) offers a higher deck and slide, multiple access climbing points and a fire pole.
Photos: Landscape Structures, Inc.


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Getting up the slope is the hard part, but worth the trip, as the 10-meter long slide awaits. The long, twisting slide is reportedly quite fast, but can be a bit intimidating for some younger kids. The slide is a throwback to playgrounds of yesteryear, as it is metal and gets quite hot.
Photos: Landscape Structures, Inc.


The city staff worked with playground designers from Habitat Systems, surfacing designers from Marathon Surfaces and playground manufacturer Landscape Structures to custom design inclusive play equipment and surfacing suitable for the topography. The play equipment on the sloped surfaces presents different ways to engage children of different ages and physical abilities in play and provides them opportunities to safely meet the physical challenges of ascending the slopes. The custom play pieces include a large hillside net, rope pull, wiggle ladder bridge and loop climb.

The flat play area at the bottom of the hill features two play structures, also from Landscape Structures. On the left side facing the hill is a 'PlayBooster' for 5-12 year olds. This decked structure offers a slide, multiple access climbing points and a fire pole. The 5-12 area is functionally linked to the hillside by the custom net climber.

On the right side of the lower playground facing the hill is a 'PlayShaper' for the younger set (2-5 year olds), which features a lower deck height, a smaller slide and a table under the deck where children can gather and socialize.

Playground Surfacing
The safety surfacing for the playground stands out. It is 'Landsafe', a seamless, porous pour-in-place recycled rubber safety surfacing in swaths of blue colored surfacing running up the center of the hill, flanked by green colored surfacing on the right and left borders of the hill.

Incorporated on the safety surfacing near the base of the hill are large reddish circles and smaller beige ones, which add interest to the mostly blue colored surfacing on the flatter area of the playground. The beige circles there are strung close together to encourage hopping or jumping play.


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The playground is all about climbing fairly long distances on a grade, except for this vertical climber with hand and leg supports.
Photo: Landscape Structures, Inc.



To help kids navigate up the hill on the right side, a scattering of blue colored rubber protuberances were placed and spaced up the hill to act as hand and footholds.

All play elements were designed to the specific length and slope on site. The 10-meter long slide is the element that probably draws the most attention. Just prior to the park's official opening, Richard Stewart, the mayor of Coquitlam, posted a video of himself on Facebook enjoying a preopening test run. The long, twisting slide is reportedly quite fast. The slide may be a bit intimidating for younger kids. The slide is a bit of a throwback to playgrounds of yesteryear, as it is metal; and like those slides that the Baby Boomers grew up on, they get quite hot. The other drawback to the playground is nearly a complete lack of shade. There is some shade at the little table under the 2-5 year old play structure.

In addition to the playground, families can enjoy the adjacent basketball courts, which include hockey nets. There's also a grassy area at the top of the hill that is perfect for picnics.

Since its official opening last year, the park still attracts many visitors throughout the lower mainland. Children line up to slide down the hill, and enjoy the challenges of the various hill climbing conveyences.


As seen in LASN magazine, September 2016.








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