Ground Up: Building Big Ideas, Together

Finalist 2018

Designed for and tested by young children, Scienceworks’ new permanent exhibition Ground Up: Building Big Ideas, Together for babies to five-year-olds provides an engaging, playful and safe experience that builds foundational skills in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) through construction-play and creative experimentation.

Ground Up invites young children and adults to think, try and creatively problem solve. Experiences are designed to be intuitive, text and instruction-free and open-ended. Children and their carers can tinker, design, build and test with shapes, lights, balls and large-scale imaginative machines. In this screen-free space technology skills are flexible and multi-dimensional.

The experiences and materials are designed to allow children to learn through play, using their already existing skills as natural-born scientists. The project demystifies science for adults who may see “knowing science” or “understanding science” as a barrier to their own enjoyment, and thus empower them as first teachers. Throughout the project consultation with community, educators, young children and their families helped to grow a deeper understanding of the target audience and inform, change and evolve the design process through testing and prototyping.

From the beginning, design always took into account the comfort of the space: spaces to gather as a group and sit comfortably, clear sightlines, safety, ability to attend to young children’s physical needs quickly with new amenities and consideration of the different needs of a wide audience base. Safety was addressed by the design team working closely with safety consultants and engineers. Whilst not officially falling within the playground category, it was established that playground standards gave excellent practical safety guidelines and the design complied with these standards.

Design Firms: 

Museums Victoria



Project Area: 

4,300 sq ft

Open Date: 

December 2017

Project Budget: 


Photo Credits: 

Museums Victoria, Fran Parker, Joel Checkley (photography); Museums Victoria, Tiny Empire Collective (videography)

Design Team: 

Scott Parker (3D design of exhibition form), Jacob Tolo (graphic and communications design)


Amaze Design, WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, ALI Industries, Hendry Group, Interbition Design, Irwins Consult, Play DMC, Tim Gibney & Associates, VicDeaf, Vision Australia


Museums Victoria, Acril Convex Mirrors, Advatek Lighting, Alucobond Architectural, AllBoard Distributors, Allround Glass, Australian Aluminium Finishing, Birrus Matting Systems, Brad Gunn, Bronson Sheetmetal, C4 National Flooring Services, Cabinet Timbers, Capral Aluminium, Ceiling Distributors, Central Steel Trading, CNC Creations, Commercial Furniture Solutions, Dec-Rate Painters & Decorators, Ellapack, Ezi Duct, GAAS Furniture, Greenspec Solutions, Gonzlab, Image Box, Industrial Brushware, Interface and Ontera, Joseph’s Workshop, JNJ Electrics, Kickbrick Toys, M&T Allison Steelmakers, Megafun & Showworks, Nesty’s Floors, Fawkner Schiavello Construction, Synthesis

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