Theatre Gardens Playspace


Recipient: Nature Play Solutions

Client: City of Subiaco

Project team: 

  • Nature Play Solutions
  • City of Subiaco
  • Playcheck

Project address: Bagot Road, Subiaco WA 6008

Nature Play Solutions was engaged to design and construct a nature playspace at Theatre Gardens, in Subiaco. The park is close to the Subiaco Arts Centre, Library, primary school, King Edward Memorial Hospital, a child-care centre and shopping and residential areas.

The City sought community input, placing notices on site, on print and social media forums, at child-focused events and on the City’s engagement website, Have Your Say Subiaco. Based on this consultation and guided by the City’s Playspace Strategy, the design brief sought to create a space that would encourage children to explore and connect with the natural environment and engage in imaginative, creative, social and physical play experiences. Following development of the concept design, the City undertook additional community engagement, including holding a stall at the local farmer’s market where the design team was available to discuss the concept with the community.

The playground sits amongst mature trees and includes a variety of built and natural features to support a diverse range of play experiences. These include log and rope challenges, a climber, a puppet theatre cubby, journey pathways, sand and water play and a mound slide. The existing trees and vegetation increase the amenity of the playground and give it a sense of place and scale, while the puppet theatre cubby references the nearby theatre.

A key feature of the design is our ‘play and amenity for all’ approach, including subtle design features to support all visitors: adults as well as children. The design focuses on children’s strengths and abilities to increase play opportunities for children with disabilities and importantly, allow them to play with other children in meaningful ways. For example, the staggered bench seat provides for wheel chair bound visitors to transfer from their chair to the sand pit should they have sufficient upper body strength. Alternatively, they can play at the sand play table alongside other children.

The playground includes graduated risks that are easily apparent to children. For example, children can balance on large steppers, broad logs, thinner bush poles or a tight rope depending on each child’s ability or interest. These inclusions empower children to make their own decisions and help develop risk assessment and problem solving skills.

Sustainability has been considered in all aspects of the project. Materials were locally sourced including feature logs and steppers which came from local trees removed as part of the City’s urban forest management program. Indigenous, drought tolerant plant species were incorporated into the planting. Water from the water play feature is allowed to soak into the ground providing water for the existing mature trees and adjacent plantings. Materials used are durable and recyclable or reusable. The various play structures are designed to reduce material wastage, thus keeping material use to a minimum.

The completed playground is well used and attracts both locals and visitors, serving as a social hub for the local community. It has also become a best practice example of playground design being profiled in professional development events.