Glenelg Foreshore Playspace

  • 2016

  • Architectural
    Place Design

Designed By:

Commissioned By:

The City of Holdfast Bay

Designed In:


WAX Design created the Glenelg Foreshore Playspace for the City of Holdfast Bay, and transformed a trip to the beach into an adventure that entertains children in new, imaginative and innovative ways. Promoting principles of nature play and risk-benefit, the playspace integrates opportunities for children with physical, sensory and intellectual disabilities.

view website
view facebook
view twitter

  • MORE
  • The design of the playspace borrows from the context, history and culture of Glenelg . The mounds and precast concrete walls reflect the waves and dune formations, reinforced by the inclusion of a giant 4.0m wide slide and timber platform that forms the 'prefect break'. The climbing wall and tunnel becomes a giant sandcastle for children to explore and the concrete walls and coloured dome net represents a beach towel draped over the site. Nature play elements draw inspiration from the indigenous vegetation of the area. The structure and roots of mangroves are reflected in the custom timber log climb and boardwalk. The intertidal environment of the mangroves is reimagined as water play in the giant sand pit.

  • A diverse gradient of challenge is integrated across the playspace, catering for all ages and abilities without segregation. Children are enabled to make their own decisions with regards to their abilities and can choose between challenging equipment towards the northern end of the playspace, through to the creative centre with sand, water play and climbing areas, or the quieter western landscaped setting of the trampolines and sunken pods. The playspace engages children in creative, imaginative and innovative ways, providing opportunities for children with physical, sensory, cognitive and intellectual disabilities, creating an environment where children can challenge themselves, irrespective age or ability.

  • The playspace highlights the role of play within our urban environments, demonstrating how playspaces have the potential to engage, deliver community value, educate and build resilience within our children. Whilst the playspace has been designed to Australian Standards, it promotes the benefits of risk. This approach empowers children to evaluate their own abilities and measure risk. By utilising a combination of constructed and natural play elements, Glenelg Foreshore Playspace broadens the value of play within our open spaces and public realms and moves away from the use of generic play equipment.

  • Sustainability principles were embedded in every aspect of the project. All existing trees were retained, with the planting of numerous trees as a long-term shade strategy. Local native plants were selected to provide additional biodiversity. The project prototyped 'Living Soft Fall Turf' for the first time in South Australia, providing a growing impact attenuation solution and a more natural surface, which is used on and around the mounds of the climbing net. Renewable materials are utilised in many of the play elements, with timber and rope selected over steel and plastic. A high proportion of the equipment was custom designed, with WAX collaborating with local manufacturers to create bespoke play.

    This project demonstrates the community benefit that can be delivered by an innovative and high quality playspace. The Glenelg Foreshore Playspace has created a place of congregation and interaction that fosters inclusion, irrespective of the social or economic factors while revitalising and activating adjacent commercial and tourism areas. The durability of all play equipment and landscape amenity was carefully considered for the coastal environment and demands of a well used playspace. The precast concrete feature walls and insitu concrete seats are one such example of simple design solutions which will endure over time, along with use hardwood timber decks and recycled timber play installations.

    From a social sustainability aspect, the playspace has significantly increased the community value of Glenelg Foreshore and wider commercial and tourism opportunities. The Playspace has been integrated into the broader reserve and foreshore through a series of entrance paths connecting to Moseley Square, Coast Path and adjacent commercial precincts. The playspace has gone far beyond this original brief, reinvigorating the Foreshore and creating a valued asset which is now an exemplary play destination of regional importance. The project promotes community interaction, with its success is measured by the hourly visitation of more than two hundred children and adults daily since opening in January 2016.

    A high proportion of the play equipment is custom designed and made in Australia, with WAX collaborating with several local manufactures to create such bespoke play experiences. Where proprietary items have been used, they have been carefully integrated to create innovative and complex play experiences. The giant 4.0m wide slide incorporates a tunnel beneath, and the sloped timber climb and concrete climbing wall adjacent facilitate a wide variety of imaginative and challenging play experiences with a compact development footprint. The final outcome succeeds in engaging users and maximises play value, bring play theory and practice together.