Creatures from the sea

Monday, 13 February, 2017 | Supplied by: Natureworks

Positioned on the water at Southport on the Gold Coast, the Broadwater Parklands feature a sculptural water playground including cool water fountains, a creek bed, tidal rockpools and sculptural, true-to-life local sea creatures with ‘spurt and spray’ features.

Natureworks was engaged to design, manufacture and install the heavy-duty sea creatures. The characters had to be extremely durable, resistant to full sun exposure and meet the Australian Standards for playground installation, including height restrictions, anti-slip finish and entrapment avoidance. Not only that, but they also needed to be realistic reproductions of the sea creatures themselves.

Close-up of the octopus, with stingray in background.

The impact of the harsh Australian sun was a significant factor in the design process. To ensure the colours remain vibrant, Natureworks made the decision not to paint the characters, instead incorporating the colours into the negative cast lay-up of the polyester gel-coat fibreglass.

The design was also influenced by the characters’ need to spurt or spray water. Natureworks added internal pipes that allowed water to spray forward, upwards or sideways from the animals’ whiskers, mouths and suction pads. The pipes were laid into the appropriate positions during the manufacturing process to reduce the time of installation and allow testing of the water jets.

The crab is designed to be climbed on.

Each sculpture was designed to be climbed and sat upon by young children. They were mounted on a concrete base with a gradual slope to ensure the stability of the sculpture and allow the water to flow freely around each animal.

No soft-fall or rubber crumb material was used in the water park’s watercourse — concrete was used instead. To minimise the risk of injury should a child fall from one of the sculptures, Natureworks was instructed to ensure that none of the sculptures stand taller than 60 cm.

The turtle is a popular sit-upon item.

The animal characters include: an oversized mud crab with streaming water jets that spray upwards towards the sky; a sit-upon loggerhead turtle that features a 6 m spray jet extending from its mouth; a sit-upon fur seal pup with whiskers that function as spray jets; a brightly coloured octopus with suction cups that provide a tactile experience for young children; and a life-sized cast of a very large dusky flathead.

Collectively, the functional and sturdy sea-life characters provide a stimulating and educational sprayground for children to enjoy year-round.

The seal's whiskers function as spray jets.

Natureworks has been sculpting, moulding and casting life-size wildlife for almost 40 years and now has a collection of more than 2000 moulds of sculptural features. Casts can be made in a range of materials including fibreglass, glass reinforced cement (GFRC), hard-coated urethane foam and hot cast true bronze if great strength and durability is required. They can be adapted for domestic use, playground or zoological standard and are designed, reinforced and finished to varying standards appropriate to use.

All images courtesy of Natureworks.

Phone: 07 3289 7555
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