Our office has been working on the Jo Wheatley All Abilities Playspace (formerly Beaton Park) for the past 7 years. Located on the Swan River foreshore in Dalkeith in Perth, it is a quintessential inclusive playground: it takes the whole community to build a playground for everyone to enjoy! This playground is an exemplar for the rest of Australia, in process and the constructed form.
Phase One includes playground equipment, exercise equipment, a sensory walkway and picnic areas. Phase Two will include an amenities block and barbeques.
The Jo Wheatley All Abilities Playspace, a chronology:
The team from Fiona Robbé Landscape Architects travelled to Dalkeith, Perth for the official opening of the Jo Wheatley All Abilities Playspace (Phase One).
Beaton Park has been renamed the Jo Wheatley All Abilities Playspace in deference to Jo’s vision for children to play in natural spaces with respect for nature. The large red entrance sign was unveiled at the opening as a surprise to Jo and her husband Vern.
This project is very close to our hearts and has involved many people’s hard work and dedication. We would like to thank all of those who were part of the community consultation, fundraising, designing, documenting and construction of this wonderful park and playground.
The playground was opened by Nedlands Mayor Max Hipkins and major sponsors Vern and Jo Wheatley. Rotarians Angus Buchanan and Cheryl Jennings represented the Rotary clubs of Nedlands, Subiaco and West Perth. The opening was attended by more than 80 community members and organisation representatives.
Once Phase Two is completed a family fun day will be hosted in the park (estimated for November 2018).
Rolfe, Fiona, Matt and Lulu.
Mayor Max Hipkins with Vern and Jo Wheatley, Fiona and Cheryl, Fiona and Jo.
Fiona and Rolfe visited the park to undertake a site inspection on the construction. It was very exciting to see this large playground taking shape!
Their visit involved some classic collaborative work; meeting contractors, sponsors, Rotary, Council, manufacturers, specialised sub-contractors and artists. Fiona called it a “weaving of magic” inspection: the collaboration and meetings gave insight to the team at large, spurring motivation and giving direction. Things were falling nicely into place!
A breaking of the soil ceremony was held for the beginning of construction in Beaton Park. The Mayor, Rotary, Australia’s Bridge, and various benefactors (who have generously donated much needed funds for the project) were all present for this auspicious moment.
Left to right: City of Nedlands Mayor Max Hipkins; Bella Hopewell; Justin Lekias; and the Hon. Bill Marmion, member for Nedlands.
Fiona spoke to Morning Show host Geoff Hutchinson on ABC Radio Perth last Wednesday (29th March), extolling the virtues of play for everyone. She spoke about the inclusive design for Beaton Park that will encourage children and adults alike to play: “I think that we are all playful human beings but we often lack the cues in our public environment to actually play,” she said.
“Much as we may all love to swing or spin, we feel shy about it because it is something that children do and it’s perceived as childish.”
“So this playground is designed in such a way that you are encouraged, all the cues are there.” Fiona said.
The topic received multiple enthusiastic calls and messages from ABC Radio Perth listeners; adults of various ages describing how they like to have fun with their children and grandchildren in playgrounds. There was sheer delight to hear of the proposed playground for everyone at Beaton Park!
You can read the ABC’s article here.
During this time, Beaton Park Playground was redesigned twice to meet the financial constraints of council, and infrastructure feasibility. A memorandum of understanding was also required between Rotary and Council.
Significant funding was obtained from community sources and local grants, raising $1.5 million towards the playground.
Public consultation with local groups was led by Fiona Robbé Landscape Architects in 2012, talking to students at Dalkeith Primary School, Newman College, and Shenton College, parents and children of Ability Centre‘s Cerebral Palsy Playgroup, members of the ParaQuad Association, and a general public consultation at Mt Claremont. The consultation sessions involved describing the proposed playground vision, and creating interactive discussion groups to find out what the participants would like to do, see and play on at Beaton Park. This process gave children, young people and adults the opportunity to express what is important to them and to contribute to the shaping of Beaton Park. For this project it was especially important to engage with stakeholders of various ages and abilities, to create a playground where everyone is welcome.
Dalkeith Primary School Newman College
Our office consolidated the consultation data into a community design brief, which was closely analysed and followed when designing the proposed play space. The playground design includes traditional equipment like swings, slides and flying foxes, as well as devices which promote physical agility, coordination and balance. Of particular interest will be areas for scientific discoveries, and a sensory walkway where you can experience different musical sounds. The play space will provide social supports (such as seating and picnic areas), and cues for inclusive play, like paired swings. Beaton Park will be host to a sophisticated playground unlike any other!