Plum Garland Memorial Playground


Recipient: Jeavons Landscape Architects

Client: The City of Port Phillip

Project team: 

  • Designers: Jeavons Landscape Architects
  • Project manager: The City of Port Phillip
  • Photography: Andrew Lloyd

Project address: Albert Park Foreshore - Beaconsfield Parade & Victoria Avenue, Albert Park VIC 3206

Plum Garland Memorial Playground is located in a prominent location along the beach foreshore in Albert Park, a bayside suburb in the City of Port Phillip, to Melbourne’s south. The playground was established in 1952 and due to its popularity and changing user needs in the community, it has been redeveloped several times, with the most recent landscape design and construction documentation carried out by Jeavons Landscape Architects in 2011-2012.

The design is a creative expression of the coastal dune and rocky outcrop environment loosely based on the habitat of the Rakali – children play amongst burrows, rocks, sand and water. The design explicitly aims to provide for unstructured play in this natural setting as well as to provide for various types of physical movement. This unique setting accommodates a wide range of activity types; is accessible and inclusive for users of all abilities; supports and encourages social interaction; has a high degree of amenity; and is targeted to children from toddlers to older primary.

When the project came up for re-design in 2012, the opportunity arose to engage the community; to enlarge the space to meet the demand; to design a play space to better reflect the needs of younger children and their families; and to acknowledge and enhance the unique environmental setting. The design process overcame numerous challenges. In a sensitive foreshore environment the space needed approval from various authorities, and needed to be compatible with the natural foreshore environment.

The Plum Garland Memorial Playground is a unique demonstration of the value of natural elements for play. It shows that local communities value their natural heritage, and expressed a strong desire for the local environment to be reflected in their children’s play spaces.

Durability on the foreshore, with front line salt impregnation of every element, is a challenge for both plants and building materials. Coupled with intensive use and high visitor numbers, this required careful attention to the sensitive placement and durability of all landscape elements.

The water utilised in the water based play equipment runs off into the garden beds, helping to alleviate stress on the plants during the warmer months. The level of water used is controlled by both ambient air temperature and the requirement for children to pump or tap key structures to keep water flowing. These measures and features have helped to keep water usage to a minimum whilst recycling the water that is used.

Above all, this natural setting makes a major contribution to sustainability and conservation in that it enables children to learn from, and become familiar with, the benefits and beauty of the natural environment and to enjoy it in their play. As the future defenders of the environment, a generation who cares about nature will be critical to the world’s sustainability. The playground continues to be one of the most loved playgrounds within the City of Port Phillip. The space is so well loved that the City has increased the frequency of maintenance to cope with the high number of users.