Melbourne's Nature Play at Royal Park Announced as Australia's Best Playground

Melbourne's Nature Play at Royal Park Announced as Australia's Best Playground


The nation-wide search for Australia’s best playground is over, with the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) crowning the City of Melbourne’s Nature Play at Royal Park the country’s overall best public play space. By recognising and celebrating the landscape architects responsible for creating a better Australia, AILA aims to inspire future innovative public space initiatives.


Nature Play is located adjacent to Melbourne’s new Royal Children’s Hospital, and was applauded for its responsive design – to the local heritage of place by focusing on the seven season of the Wurundjeri as well as respecting the highly valued character of Royal Park, and by encouraging patient and staff interaction.


Nature Play at Royal Park is designed to invite users to look deeper to witness the layers and seasonal change in the playspace. The jury applaud the approach, as it sets the standard for building appreciation, engagement and respect for the space at a city scale, and builds on the unique heritage of Royal Park,building knowledge and ensuring that future generations become active stewards of the natural environment.” comments the expert jury.


Regional winners were also announced, with McGregor Coxall and Western Sydney Parklands Trust’s Lizard Log Playground design in the Western Sydney Parklands taking out the ACT/NSW prize for its innovative use of sustainable and water conscious design; while Playce Pty Ltd’s Valley Reserve Sparc in Melbourne won in VIC/TAS for its inclusive, accessible design that coexists harmoniously with its natural bushland surrounds; and AECOM’s Yokine Regional Inclusive Play Space in Perth has been chosen as the best space in WA/NT/SA/QLD for its strong research-based curiosity-inducing space for the whole community to enjoy.


A special mention is to be given to HASSELL’s PLAY[ground] collaboration with Archikidz and Sydney Living Museums for taking out the Innovation Award for engaging new audiences with landscape architecture and initiating a conversation about our cities, their future and how we interact with the public domain, through free workshops and temporary installations as part of Vivid Sydney Festival.


Research shows that interaction with the outdoors can have profoundly beneficial impacts upon our physical and mental health, can reduce stress and even have healing properties; whilst well designed public play spaces can have a positive impact on children’s (and adults’) development, encourage creativity and social skills, and inspires community inclusivity – the positive benefits are never ending.


“It’s so important to invest in the outdoor environment for our children and the flow-on physical, emotional, social and health benefits. Being the mum of three young girls, having fantastic playgrounds in your neighbourhood can be a game changer.” comments Shahana McKenzie, AILA CEO.


The competition’s major sponsor, leading outdoor play equipment manufacturer Lappset Australia is challenging today’s indoor-bound youth to play outdoors with irresistibly well-designed spaces, focused around multi-generational interaction, exercise, connection with nature and innovative design, whilst teaching value for public spaces.


“In urban environments, private outdoor spaces are increasingly rare, which is one of the reasons that public play spaces are so invaluable for the future of our cities and our children.” comments Harri Makela from Lappset Australia.


The winning space will be rewarded with an all expenses paid trip to the home of Lappset –Rovaniemi in Finland, while the regional winners receive a tickets to the 2016 International Festival of Landscape Architecture; NOT IN MY BACKYARD. 45 public spaces were submitted for the title of Australia’s Best Playground, ranging from adventure playgrounds to cross fit circuits to waterplay to senior fitness courses, with the winners chosen by People’s Choice and an expert jury.


AILA’s Australia’s Best Playground Award seeks to recognise and celebrate the country’s best public play spaces and the innovative landscape architects that create them, as well as inspiring communities to engage in their local play places.


To view all the entrants and winners, head to:


Contact, interviews and materials

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AILA’s CEO is available for comment. Please contact:

Grace Bodman, Marketing & Events Officer T: 02 6248 9970 E: [email protected]


Skye Haldane is available for interview from the winning landscape architect team at the City of Melbourne. Please contact:

T: 03 9658 8614 E: [email protected]


About the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA)

AILA is the growing national advocacy body representing 2,500 active and engaged landscape architects, promoting the importance of the profession today and for the future. Committed to designing and creating a better Australia, landscape architects shape the world around us.