Jo Wheatley All Abilities Play Space
Project NameJo Wheatley All Abilities Playground and Leisure Space, Dalkeith, WA
Matthew Parkinson/ Fiona Robbé
Photographer DetailsMatthew Parkinson/ Fiona Robbé
The Playspace has been through a 7 year gestation process to get to Phase One completion. It is designed as a prototype and exemplar of a public facility that is accessible to all ages, abilities and cultures. The project required the resources of the entire community to ensure this kind of equality over the period of its design and construction, resulting in a truly inclusive space. It proves that community engagement yields results in achieving positive architecture.
The project was named after its primary funder, Jo Wheatley, who tirelessly advocates for the nurturing of children in outdoor environments.
Fiona Robbé Landscape Architecture, which operates under the umbrella of Architects of Arcadia, was responsible for the overall concept and detailed design. Earthcare Landscape were the fabricators and builders of the park.
The Playspace is a multi-functional recreation reserve occupying the former site of Beaton Park in Dalkeith, WA. The play area includes playground activities, exercise equipment, picnic areas, and a sensory walking path.
Phase Two of the project is about to commence construction, and will include an amenities block and BBQ area.
The large urban site is set upon a relatively flat block of acid sulphate soils underneath a variety of fill materials.
The landscape architect team navigated a string of established trees in the area to design the layout of the park, retaining most of them during the process.
The overall design of the playground is warm and welcoming, using mainstay design principles to ensure a contextual approach underpinned the park. The park is set amongst established, mature trees on the site, and occupies an impressive scale for an urban park.
Timber was an important material in the construction of the park. Designer Fiona Robbé utilised the strength and diversity of timbers functions to achieve innovative design.
Decks, poles, balustrades, seats and play equipment all utilise timber design, balancing artistic form with durability and an organic aesthetic. Timber was an essential component in achieving a welcoming and tactile environment for children and adults to relax, play, and learn. Particularly within the disability sector, warm and tactile materials are essential. Timber is much more engaging and pleasing to touch than steel or plastics.
The decision to use Australian hardwoods came down to a mix of strength and the established budget of the park. Jarrah and Tuart timber logs were carved with animals and patterns to create an expressive environment. Timber poles were used structurally for equipment and shading, and dressed timber for the decking and seating. Hardwood mulch was also spread throughout the park to create organic garden beds.