Finalist 2023

Bouldering

Industrial By Nature

Bouldering Playground Structures specifically designed for Challenge Play.

BOULDERING is a range of modular outdoor climbing structures. They bring a unique level of challenge play to public space as a niche, stand alone construction. They are designed for all ages and abilities and specifically designed for the active teen / young adult.

Design Brief:

Historically almost all playground products are designed for the young to early adolescent demographic with less attention given to the active teen/young adult groups. This age group is generally catered for with public access skate parks or basketball courts. Both are high cost and require a large footprint. The market can be generally conservative, risk averse and very safety conscious, creating a high barrier to entry for new products. They value innovation and acknowledge the physical and mental benefits BOULDERING could offer their young constituents. We wanted to design something that appealed to the user and also the purchaser as they are different groups entirely. It needed to be unlike anything they'd installed in a playspace before, yet something they could relate to. We were convinced our modular solution could offer a wide range of options that would be accepted... and it has!


This project was developed by:

Design Process

BOULDERING needed to be a solution with a visual connection to 'indoor bouldering' with a focus on the recognisable faceted climbing surface that is common in indoor climbing gyms. These climbing walls tend to have a very architectural aesthetic. We decided that using a similar style will help our market to relate to the product.

The solution also needed to be aesthetically pleasing, inviting, yet challenging. The large range of options using modular architecture allows BOULDERING to be adapted to any environment cost effectively. This is achieved through the design of the unique sub-frame and climbing panels. As the faceted panels have hundreds of individual joining angles, we engineered a detailed solution using custom steel joining members all uniquely manufactured to fit together with great accuracy. This allows complete freedom with our climbing surface design so we can provide a challenging series of faces to traverse.

Beyond the physical shape and engineering of our structures, we developed a range of climbing holds and volumes to enhance the user's experience and suit their capability. Each shape had to be used in a number of orientations, look like a 'family' of shapes yet be uniquely different and perform different functions. We developed methods for the shapes to be fixed to the climbing surface and also be tamper-proof. This is a critical element for ensuring public safety and product longevity. The design process also concentrated significant efforts to design-for-manufacture as we do all manufacturing in-house. Minimising waste, maximising efficiency in fabrication, building and finishing is a big part of the development focus.

We designed as a 'factory built, ship to site' concept to reduce time on site and maintain quality control and provide a feedback loop on future product development.

Design Excellence

BOULDERING is visually striking and is a focal piece in the ‘activity landscape’. The range of BOULDERING options allow architects to choose a structure's size, colour, orientation and location to best suit the environment and their visual objective.

BOULDERING excels at its designed function – Challenge PLAY. BOULDERING is an intuitive activity where coloured holds define a particular route to climb. Different colours are used to define difficulty. The user is drawn to the structure due to its appearance and scale. The user experience is advanced employing a previously unavailable activity in a public space.
BOULDERING meets AS4685.1:2021 Playground equipment and surfacing. AS2316.1:2009 Artificial climbing structures and challenge courses. AS1170.1:2002, AS1170.2.2002 Structural design actions. We focuses on safety considerations and risk analysis. We have to work within the boundaries of safety standards yet still provide enough challenge for the user so they have a sense of achievement. BOULDERING has an impeccable safety record and safeguards against unintentional use with climb-down handles, impact resistant components and easily cleanable materials.

Our manufacturing is focused on build quality, material choice, innovative construction techniques, and manufacturing processes we control. BOULDERING's materials are proven high wear, UV and impact resistant.

BOULDERING is a valuable investment for the stakeholder. They recognise the challenge in positively engaging the demographic in public space activities. BOULDERING not only offers a solution to this issue, its bold, highly visible presence allows the stakeholder to say “look what we’re doing for the youth in our community”. BOULDERING does not have a direct competitor at this stage and it is certainly the only product of its kind designed and manufactured in Victoria. BOULDERING is sold nationally and we are currently putting the final touches on BOULDERING's export models to further expand the reach of this innovative design.

Design Innovation

BOULDERING incorporates innovative product design that balances aesthetics, function, manufacturing, quality, environmental concerns and longevity. Whist this is incorporated in design excellence, it is the innovation in the design that pulls these elements together. The internal frame design is unique. It uses proven manufacturing techniques in a way which, when combined with clever design, creates an imposing, modular structure which looks anything but modular. The design allows us to scale our range based on common architecture while still providing customers with endless options for customisation, appearance and function.

BOULDERING approaches design innovation as the foundation to its success. In essence, BOULDERING is still in its ‘proof of concept stage’ where innovation and creativity are necessary for its survival, let alone success. As the designer and manufacturer of BOULDERING, we refine our designs constantly. Our designers and engineers build the structures and see first hand the benefits of good design and quality and can also modify areas requiring improvement.

BOULDERING is certainly the first of its kind in the world. BOULDERING has huge export potential due to its ‘flat-packable’ nature and it sits uniquely in this space. The value proposition is such that it provides global reach from Victoria, Australia and does so at an affordable scale due to its design and manufacturing advantage.

BOULDERING uses existing systems, materials and manufacturing techniques in a new and innovative way with a unique design. It uses innovative processes and construction techniques but is ultimately clever in its simplicity yet incredible difficult to replicate. BOULDERING can be assembled by anyone with even limited construction experience which makes it accessible to a wide global market.

Design Impact

Climbing is one of the fastest growing sports in the world with indoor climbing gyms being one of the fastest growing recreational industries. BOULDERING promotes social inclusion, physical and mental health and well being. It is challenging, yet achievable. With regular use, the climber will see tangible improvements which form part of ones personal growth. We see this as an important distinction in user development between regular playground equipment and BOULDERING.

BOULDERING is in its infancy at this stage. Our goal was to create a viable product to fill the gap in this very risk averse, conservative market. BOULDERING has had to prove itself with striking aesthetics, high quality, unquestionable safety, affordability and availability (especially through COVID). Our feedback, through Council public consultations, direct end-user data, return customers and continual growth tell us BOULDERING can continue to offer unique positive impact and acceptance in the community. There are more than 50 installations (and growing) across Australia. Our brand recognition is high within the industry and we are now confidently export marketing.

Design Impact can be measured by the increase in interest and demand. As there was nothing like it in the market prior to BOULDERING, the impact of design is easily measured. Its positive Social Impact is shown by providing an opportunity for young adult physical activity and meeting teen needs in the community. BOULDERING is a highly visible message saying "we are providing for our youth". This leads into ENVIRONMENT and also COMMUNITY which is closely linked to the SOCIAL impact. The benefits of any activity are well documented for both mental and physical well being. BOULDERING provides a legitimate alternative to regular public access activities like skateboarding or basketball. COMMERCIALLY we are confident BOULDERING will continue its initial success and soon be exported globally.

Circular Design and Sustainability Features

BOULDERING is Australian Made with minimal impact to the environment. By manufacturing locally we minimise the impact of shipping and freight. Our local supply chain is subject to strict environmental laws (for necessary processes such as galvanising) and labour laws.

BOULDERING also has a low environmental impact once installed. They are a low maintenance product, that is easily cleaned using non-toxic cleaning materials if required.

BOULDERING uses steel with up to 70% recycled content, recycled HDPE material in climbing volumes (dark and subdued colours) and high recycled content in our custom steel fasteners. We return all local scrap to origin for at-the-source recycling and we used advanced planning software to efficiently cut our panel material to minimise waste and cost.

BOULDERING has a 20+ year product life expectancy. Our structures can be easily returned to factory and fully disassembled at end-of-life and the components either recycled or re-used.
As a local manufacturer we can carry all components in stock and in the event of vandalism or damage on a panel or structure element, we can supply specific components rather than needing to replace an entire structure. Although BOULDERING structures are large, they are actually made up of many components that are easily transportable meaning shipping spare parts has a low environmental impact. We do this through disassembly and component separation and then either re-use or recycle.

We provide environmental impact statements in many installations and we are confident we are doing everything possible, through design and manufacture, to minimise the impact of BOULDERING on the environment. As a business, our waste cost percentage is a fraction of the national average in the manufacturing sector. As we are Australian Made and a majority of our suppliers are local Victorians, we can monitor their waste management also.

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