New images of the million pound “digital playground” have been given the thumbs-up from the people of Dundee.
Dundee City Council has issued a call for applicants to design and deliver the interactive play park at Waterfront Place, to the east of V&A Dundee.
Taking pitches until early October, the council wants all designs to match its initial brief of a nautical play area inspired by whales and whale song.
The local authority has set aside between £900,000 and £1m to cover design and construction, with an aim of completing the entire Waterfront Place project by March 2021.
And it has attracted praise from locals and visitors alike after pictures were published this week.
Valerie Clark, formerly of Dundee but who now stays in Guildford said: “I think it’s a lovely idea to pay homage to Dundee’s whaling history.
“It will keep the area open and will stop it being covered by buildings.”
Elanor Brown, from Edinburgh, said: “I think it’s a really nice design. It will fit in well with all of the regeneration that has taken place at the waterfront.”
But Ashley Squire, from Coldside, insisted there were other issues that also had to be ironed out, saying: “It’s a nice design but there are issues with parking at the Waterfront.
“Perhaps they could revise the design to include more parking spaces for families wishing to use the playground.”
Council officers say they have only “very high” aspirations for the design and features of the play park, which is expected to have large numbers of visitors due to its proximity to the V&A.
In a design brief published as part of the bidding process, they express the hope that the facility will be “unique and very memorable”, with interactive elements such as keypads, buttons and features triggered by sensors.
“Planners also want to see it illuminated at night, like the V&A and the adjacent Discovery. “The intention for the play area is that it should be innovative in design, and ambitious in its unique identity,” they said.
“There are fundamental starting points for the designers involved: that it is to be themed on whales, and that a digital element should be included.
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“The play area needs to be suitable for all ages and needs.”
The council is leaning heavily on Dundee’s historical whaling trade as inspiration for the play area. As well as specifying that the play area should be the shape of a whale it also wants kids to be able to create whale song.
Officers have even alluded to the bowhead whale – the preferred whale of the one-time Dundee whaler – as the ideal inspiration for any design.
Following the construction and opening of the park, the council aims to form a Whale Park Engagement Group with experts from Dundee Science Centre and the University of St Andrews to promote sustainable marine practices.
The launch of the design competition comes after Andy Scott, creator of the Kelpies sculptures in Falkirk, scrapped a plan for a whale sculpture in Waterfront Place.
Much like the play area, Mr Scott’s steel design would have been life-sized, inspired by the bowhead whale, and built as a tribute to the whaling trade.
However, the Scottish sculptor had to let his design – which he drew up at no cost to the council – “swim off into the sunset” after agents acting for the local authority ignored his pitch.