Darling Harbour Children’s Playground

Design Feature
Type of Project
Playground, Placemaking
New South Wales

The Darling Harbour Children’s Playground has transformed the public experience of Darling Harbour, creating a new destination for families that offers a diverse play experience. A key driver of the project was to provide opportunities for young children through to teenagers to play, and for the playground to integrate with its surrounds. This project is an example of a new genre of leisure precincts, which meets the broader community's needs, attracting families to stay for long periods of time.

Promoting learning and imagination

The Darling Harbour Children’s Playground and the neighbouring leisure precinct at Darling Quarter is one of the largest free family entertainment attractions in Sydney. The 4,000-square metre area is comprised of public open space, and challenging play equipment for infants through to adults, as well as an interactive water play area which features streams, jets, pumps, switches, and water wheels.

The playground provides amenities for a range of community members. Photo Credit: Property NSW and Craven Images.
The playground provides amenities for a range of community members. Photo Credit: Property NSW and Craven Images.

The leisure precinct is part of the larger Darling Quarter redevelopment, a $500 million place making project that has transformed the public domain of Darling Harbour. The new mixed-use precinct integrates the playground with world class commercial buildings, new city pedestrian connections, a 3,000-square metre retail terrace, cafes, restaurants, bars, grassed community areas, and a 300 seat children’s theatre. 

Illuminated night-time playground. Photo Credit: Property NSW.
Illuminated night-time playground. Photo Credit: Property NSW.

The project is Australia’s first illuminated night-time playground, attracting young adults from nearby offices, shops and restaurants to play on the giant swing or 21-metre flying fox. The Village Green (North and South) are two community green spaces of approximately 1,100 square metres. This provides important public open space which is utilised for a wide range of community activities, small sized activations and events. 

The popularity of Darling Quarter Playground has exceeded the developer and land owner’s initial expectations, resulting in the maintenance plan and budget to be significantly altered and increased to meet the high volume of weekly visitors. While the hard-wearing finishes of the play equipment were designed for wear and tear, other features such as the specialised water-play equipment may wear more quickly due to overuse and materials such as sand and mulch requiring regular top-ups. The popularity of the Playground and its seamless integration into the broader Darling Quarter Precinct, demonstrates how this project exemplifies successful urban renewal and placemaking in an urban context.

Project Features include:

  • Water play area, with specialised interactive equipment
  • Challenging playground with play equipment such as the ‘Big Slide’, 'Jumbo Swing’, ‘Octanet’, flying foxes and rope climbing
  • Table tennis
  • Phone fit bikes
  • Toilets, café and shade structure

Project team

  • Property New South Wales (includes the former Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority)
  • Lendlease
  • ASPECT Studios
  • Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT)
  • David Eager
  • Hyder
  • Waterforms International
  • Deuce Design
  • Speirs + Major
  • Arup
  • SJB
  • Ramus Illumination

Project cost

$10 Million

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