Frew Park Arena Play Structure


Recipient: Guymer Bailey Architects

Client: Brisbane City Council

Project team: 

  • The Play Works (Play Consultant),
  • Michael Bale & Associates (Structural Engineer),
  • Play DMC (Playground Certifier), 
  • The Zoo Keeper (Artist),
  • KaHrtel (3D Modelling & Renders),
  • The Play Works (Head Contractor)
  • H & G Contractors (Building Subcontractor)
  • Photography: Scott Burrows Photography ©

Project address: Frew Park, Frew Street, Milton QLD 4064

Guymer Bailey Architects in partnership with The Play Works and Brisbane City Council designed the Arena Play Structure as the centrepiece of Frew Park, Council’s new inner-city parkland on the site of the former Milton Tennis Centre in Brisbane. The Arena’s design resembles no other ‘typical’ playground design with its complex architectural structure, unique in form and of monumental scale placed at the focus of the ‘play’ experience.

Guymer Bailey + The Play Works competed for the project by developing a design and construction approach for the Arena conducive with Council’s brief, conceptual framework and budget. After being awarded the project, the team worked closely and collaboratively with Council’s Project Team. The relationship was characterised by mutual understanding and joint commitment to the project’s design framework and an ideal outcome sought for the local community. Community consultation carried out by Brisbane City Council, as well as intensive consultation with subcontractors and suppliers helped the design team to stay on message throughout the design and construction phases.

The theme of the Arena Play Structure is ‘deconstruction’, in that memories of the iconic Milton tennis stadium remain in symbiosis with the contemporary play space. ‘Deconstruction’ is thus represented by large precast concrete panels of varying heights and angles; suspended concrete slabs; angled steel struts; steel mesh tunnels and barriers; and angular folded roof canopies arranged in an arc facing the park’s picnic facilities and enclosing a central lawn space. Youngsters of different ages can climb all over, through, and around the deconstructed Arena to explore a series of play zones which reflect spaces typically found in a stadium, such as the Grandstand, and the Commentary Box — a steel-mesh box suspended seven metres above the ground. These Arena spaces explore play opportunities programmed around key experiential themes of sports stadiums: Gateway; Spectator; Performer; and Commentator.

The structure has then been supplemented by theme-specific play elements and street art to amplify its play value and contextualise its visual appeal. Play features include slides, climbing walls, swings, tunnels, nets, hang-out spaces, and interactive components. The Arena Play Structure’s main entry is marked by a large street-art mural heralding excitement at arrival. Durable materials were selected for all elements to meet the need for low maintenance and long-life expectation and thus a sustainable outcome.

The Arena Play Structure carefully provides play experience for all age groups and abilities, however it intentionally offers specific focus on play for 10 to 15 year olds with younger age groups already being accommodated by playgrounds in neighbouring parks. The Arena incorporates a measured array of “risky” challenges embracing the recognition that there are substantial benefits that accrue to children given the opportunity to explore their relationship with calculated risk. Its true value as a play space is seen in the activity of the users in any busy hour – you will see children engaging vibrantly with every element: gathered socially in different nooks, swinging, climbing, balancing, exploring, testing their nerve, watching and performing for each other and the surrounding spectators.