Busselton Playscape Wins AILA’s National Award for Excellence.

The Busselton ‘Sea Play on the Bay’ playscape has been honoured in the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) National Landscape Architecture Awards 2019. The project, by Perth’s PLAN E Landscape Architects, has taken out the top gong in its Play Spaces category with the prestigious Award of Excellence.

The awards were held in Melbourne at the Plaza Ballroom last night (Thursday October 10), a celebration of projects of national significance that are shaping green, open and public spaces across Australia. It highlights the growing impact of landscape architecture on the spaces we inhabit.


“The design is really a collection of physical and visual maritime stories, encapsulating the spirit of Busselton and providing a multidimensional framework in which the community can play, engage and grow,” said PLAN E Director David Smith. “To see our hard work recognised with such a prestigious national award is an honour, and one that humbles us, as our aim was ultimately to provide the community with a genuinely magical playscape offering a heightened sense of adventure, fun and imaginative play.“


Sea Play on the Bay draws on the local maritime and coastal environment to create an adventurous play space featuring marine and nautically themed elements.

“The City of Busselton envisioned a play space adjacent to the Busselton Jetty as an iconic recreational facility and a major attraction for both regional visitors and the local community, providing a variety of activities for a range of age groups and abilities, day and night,” said David Smith

The jury “commended the use of non-traditional, bespoke play elements and dramatic lighting to extend playground patronage, allowing users to enjoy the space during the day and at night”. They also noted that “exploration and discovery are encouraged through a variety of play opportunities for all ages, with areas designed for all abilities”, and that “distinctive vertical elements add excitement, scale, a sense of movement and high-seas drama”.

“Sea Play on the Bay is proving to be an iconic part of the ever-improving Busselton foreshore and tourist precinct,” the Jury said.


PLAN E challenged the conventional concepts of a seaside playground with dynamic arrangement of some truly bespoke elements. “The playground was designed to respond to the five primary senses, being vision, audition (hearing), somatosensory (touch), vestibular (movement and balance) and proprioception (relative position of neighbouring parts of the body and strength),” said David Smith.

Featuring both a dry and wet area, it’s a diverse and innovative design for all seasons beneath mature Norfolk Island Pines. “The tilted clipper ship at the centre resembles those that once frequented Busselton Jetty, enhanced by the ‘bow wave’ deck, a giant partially submerged squid and whale,” said David Smith. “The wet space features a gigantic whale tail shedding water, as if just flicked out of the ocean, while special effects coloured lighting adds a magical night-time experience for users.”

Rope, granite rocks and timber – including recycled wharf timbers creating an elevated jetty – are used in various forms to reflect a maritime environment while steel provides a sturdy, durable material appropriate to the climatic conditions.