Carawatha Park


Recipient: Nature Play Solutions & City of Melville

Client: City of Melville

Project team: 

  • City of Melville (community engagement, overarching designers from concept through to detail design for construction)
  • Nature Play Solutions (Nature playspace detail design)
  • Playce (Teen space details design)
  • Hydroquip (Irrigation detail design)
  • Exteria and Jahn Rees (Customised Furniture)
  • Playcheck (Playspace safety audit)

Project address: 10 Archibald Street, Willagee WA 6156

Carawatha Park is an intergenerational park in Willagee, City of Melville, Western Australia. The design provides spaces for different demographics side by side. It’s a park with something for everyone.

The spaces are both linked and separated by a network of accessible paths which create spaces like different rooms in a house; distinct and yet connected to create a whole. There is the jarrah-banksia bushland; the oval including exercise equipment under macadamia trees and a set of bright orange practice footy goals; the teen area including ping-pong, hoop, swing, skate and shelter with custom ‘lounge setting’; and the nature play space, also with a large shelter with custom adult and child sized picnic tables.

The City was not only committed to designing a great park for the local community but also to engaging them in the process. ‘Space Shaper’ was chosen as it brought staff and community together within the park space to undertake specific activities. The process was very successful and the report generated was used to inform the design brief.

From the workshops, it became obvious that local kids desperately wanted a space where all their wheels were allowed and somewhere to hang out with some shelter from the weather. The thing they all loved about the existing site was the bush and the trees. There were recurring suggestions for waterplay, cubbies and tree houses even from a teen audience.

These ideas were carefully worked into an inclusive nature play area. A bush cubby leads to stepping stones through a bush garden (including lily-pily snack stops) to log steps leading up a hill to a polished concrete slide which can accommodate any size and number of bottoms. All the park elements are built for multi-use and there are no signs denoting permitted or non-permitted users.

The inclusion of the requested waterplay was hotly debated in a rapidly drying climate. Was this a “waste of water”? The designers argued the case that in no way was water “wasted” on child’s play. That in fact it was a vital part of childhood sensory development. Convinced, an agreement was reached that a drink fountain would provide water for play; running off into a steel channel and a concrete ‘creek’ into the sandpit.

Nature Play Solutions ran a cubby-building event as part of the Park’s opening celebrations, which drew massive participation by all ages. A year later, informal cubbies are still being built. City staff support this by leaving materials available and structures intact.

The success of the park has in large part been due to the engagement process involving the entire community and the City’s staff. The design left no-one out. Recent local community surveys carried out by the City have received comments such as “Previously there was a divide between different cultures but now with the new park everyone mixes. Noongar and others all mix at the park,” October 2015. It is regularly being used for City organised activities, celebrations, home schooling groups, mother’s groups, hanging out, exercising and relaxing.