Architects of Arcadia

National Awards of Excellence

POSTED IN General November 7, 2017

Halvorsen Park Playground has received the National Playspace Award (<$0.5M) from Parks & Leisure Australia! In May, this playground won the Regional Playground Award (<$0.5M) for NSW/ACT, and we are thrilled it has been recognised in the National field! Our office is so proud of this community playground, which represents the nautical contribution Australia made during the Second World War.



1: Fiona accepts the award, MC: Kerry O’Keeffe. 2: Bethanie Tobin (Parks & Leisure Australia), Neville Davis (Parramatta City Council), Fiona Robbe and Anthony-Paul Diaz (Keynote speaker, Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks). Click to enlarge image.

We believe there’s more skill in designing and creating a small playground, which tells a rich narrative, than a large playground with a lush budget. Small playgrounds must succinctly combine the skills, knowledge and talent of all who contribute (our team included stoneworktimberworkconcrete stain artworkrubber artwork), which is why we are so pleased with this reward that acknowledges high professional achievement.




POSTED IN General September 26, 2017

KIDSCAPE is part of the International Festival of Landscape Architecture and is aimed at making sure kids understand the importance of open space in our communities. On Sunday 15th October, KIDSCAPE will offer FREE fun outdoor activities for all kids, from 3 to 13yo. Come and play at First Fleet Park in The Rocks for a day of discovery, learning, playing, planting, building and more!

Fiona will be speaking at the Festival, and facilitating the Gulliver’s Mapping activity at KIDSCAPE this year. Click here to see a video and read about last year’s KIDSCAPE, held in Haig Park, Canberra.

Secure a spot on some selected activities by registering online or just come along on the day from 10am – 4pm, check the KIDSCAPE website here for more details. See you there!


New publication

POSTED IN General August 22, 2017

Image result for designing cities with children and young people

Yay (at last) it is here! Designing cities with children and young people: beyond playgrounds and skate parks / edited by Kate Bishop and Linda Corkery. Fiona is so proud to be a contributor in this book, with her chapter Designing with children: a practitioner’s perspective.

Designing Cities with Children and Young People focuses on promoting better outcomes in the built environment for children and young people in cities across the world. This book presents the experience of practitioners and researchers who actively advocate for and participate with children and youth in planning and designing urban environments. It aims to cultivate champions for children and young people among urban development professionals, to ensure that their rights and needs are fully acknowledged and accommodated.

With international and interdisciplinary contributors, this book sets out to build bridges and provide resources for policy makers, social planners, design practitioners and students. The content moves from how we conceptualize children in the built environment, what we have discovered through research, how we frame the task and legislate for it, and how we design for and with children. Designing Cities with Children and Young People ultimately aims to bring about change to planning and design policies and practice for the benefit of children and young people in cities everywhere.

You can order the book from Routledge (paperback, hardback, eBook) here.

Awards of Excellence

POSTED IN General May 23, 2017

Photo Collage

Our office is so excited and proud to be the recipient of the Regional (NSW/ACT) Playspace Award (<$0.5M) for Halvorsen Park. The project was an historic, creative design challenge, telling the story of one of Australia’s first submarines, HMAS AE2, an E Class Submarine, and the Halvorsen family who built 1500 leisure boats in Australia, and 250 boats for the Allied forces during WW2, 178 of which defended Australia. Many of these boats were built in Ryde, near the site of Halvorsen Park!

The park welcomes the community to a space that provides natural elements, imaginative playground equipment, action oriented playground equipment, seating and sun protection. A community survey demonstrated that the public are extremely satisfied with their new park.

This award is also for all the artists that collaborated with us (stonework, timberwork, concrete stain artwork, rubber artwork) – the beauty of the finished product is a tribute to their work! Green Fern Landscaping did a wonderful job building and coordinating all the works for this playground – flawless!

World Forum

POSTED IN General May 2, 2017

Fiona will be attending the World Forum on Early Care and Education in Auckland this May, presenting with fellow academics on the “Journey Into Nature” – discussing current issues in design for children and the future of outdoor/nature play.

This forum is a unique opportunity for our office to connect with the international play industry, and to learn about other countries’ approaches to nature play, and what strategies other major cities adopt in meeting modern childcare challenges.

WF2017_PromoAdClick on the image to be redirected to the World Forum website



POSTED IN General November 23, 2016

It’s all been happening in Canberra!

The 2016 International Festival of Landscape Architecture was hosted in Canberra from 27-30th October; aiming to connect the public with landscape architects. Amongst the exciting program was KIDSCAPE on Saturday 29th October in Haig Park- a free event of endless fun! 1000 people supported the event, with both kids and parents having fun participating in the various activities, such as:

  • Slack lines
  • Cardboard cities
  • Pump bike track
  • Mud kitchen/play
  • Kids parkour
  • Storytelling
  • Gardening activities
  • Lego building

We were central to the team making this festival and play day happen. KIDSCAPE was like an International Play Day, others of which Fiona has attended in Berlin and Hong Kong. ‘I was so proud to be part of a day where children were invited to participate in nature-based free-play activities,’ she said.

Fiona conducted a session of Gulliver’s Mapping – a consultation workshop encouraging kids to share views and ideas on Haig Park’s spaces.

On the success of this event we hope to see (and be involved in) more like it in Australia!



POSTED IN General June 7, 2016

AILA has announced the winner of Australia’s Best Playground, and the regional winners:

Congratulations to the City of Melbourne – with Nature Play at Royal Park. The title of Best Playground is well deserved!

Our own Lizard Log Plaground and Yokine Regional Inclusive Playspace won for the ACT/NSW and WA/NT/SA/QLD regions!


PLA 2016 Highly Commendation Major playspace  uner 0.5mAt the end of last month PLA held their 2016 conference and Awards of Excellence dinner. Blacktown City Council and our office received a High Commendation under Playspace:major (>$0.5m) for Peel Reserve, The Ponds!

We are all so proud of this project and very pleased to see it recognised amongst other great landscape projects!

Australia’s Best Playground – winner!

POSTED IN General May 10, 2016

Yesterday AILA announced the top 5 entries per region with the most public votes for Australia’s Best Playground – and we made it!!  Our own entry, the Skywalker Plaground at Kellyville Public School, came in at the top of the ACT/NSW region, with 15,481 votes – thank you to everyone who voted!! Amazing effort!


Other projects we collaborated on have made the region shortlists too: Lizard Log Playground in NSW (our website’s background image) and Yokine Regional Inclusive Playspace in WA – we’re very proud!

It is now up to the jury to decide which playground will be the national winner, to be announced on the 24th May. With so many extraordinary playgrounds in the running it will be a tough choice!

(Click on the image to see it full size)

Goodstart Childcare Centre opened by Malcolm Turnbull

POSTED IN General February 17, 2016

Quotes smallerPrime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and State Attorney-General and Vaucluse MP Gabrielle Upton visited and officially opened our Goodstart Childcare Centre in Double Bay in December! Recognition from these dignitaries means A LOT to us!

“This is the most amazing early learning centre I have ever seen in my life, I’ve seen quite a few,” said Mr Turnbull

“This is one of the projects that rejuvenated Double Bay and it’s responding to a need in the community for good quality, long daycare for kids,” Ms Upton said.

“It’s an incredibly attractive set up here, it has a big sand pit which I know is always popular with kids.”

(Click image to see at full size)


Beat the heat at Nurragingy!

POSTED IN General February 10, 2016


Our Nurragingy water park (at Doonside reserve) has been included in The Daily Telegraph’s list of twelve fun waterparks in Sydney for this summer!

“The free water play area … is a magnet for kids and features a large windmill, a water wall spray fountain, jets, cannons and bucket dumpers”

This project was fun to design and it is rewarding to see the community enjoying it as much! Doonside Reserve is a great location for family picnics and outings, and it was an honour to add to the park’s spaces – including Kookaburra Playground,Wren Playground and Lomandra Playground as well!