The seven-acre site of Downtown Park in Cary, North Carolina is filled with beautiful, tall pine trees that provided inspiration for early playground concepts. Ideas reflecting all manner of forest imagery, especially native flora and fauna. A bold red bird emerged as the preferred playground sculpture concept. A sketch of two alert cardinals, perched among branches and overlooking the park, was selected in the final stages of design with OJB Landscape Architecture and the Town of Cary.
A complex scramble of net and log play surround the pair of birds. Kids can climb up the tail feathers or across the branch-like beams to go inside the birds. The interior experience of each bird is different. A chaos of ropes are attached to a central column, simulating the experience of climbing a pine tree. Grab boards on an accessible flexform ramp will help children with physical challenges to navigate inside the birds. There are multiple points of entry and exit, including a large stainless steel tube side.
The birds sit adjacent to a large pedestrian bridge so children will have a literal ‘birds eye view’ as they look out through the birds’ pupils at passers-by. Interior lighting will give the birds a strong and striking presence as the sky darkens. Even as night falls, children will still be able to enjoy the playground safely and the illuminated birds will add to the evening experience of the entire park.
In nearby Wakeforest, North Carolina, you’ll find another Earthscape playground at E. Carroll Joyner Park.