Adelaide Zoo
Adelaide Zoo
Adelaide Zoo

Enhance the reputation of a world-class attraction

In order to achieve our goal, certain aspects of the zoo needed upgrading and rejuvenating. It was identified that a play space was needed and the zoo wanted something special. After engaging WAX Design, we delivered some bespoke elements that lived up to the zoo’s ambitions.

The challenge was to meet stringent Australian standards for playgrounds, ensure playground elements are robust and equipment is well-maintained under heavy use, avoid visitor disruption during construction, build a creative play space as well as a shaded rest area for adults to keep an eye on their children and blend in with the exotic surroundings, incorporate disabled access and encourage use by all ages.

DesignExecute2 Process at Adelaide Zoo
01 Discover
02 Develop
03 Detail
04 Deliver

01 Discover

Working through our Design Engineering Hub in Pyrmont, and using our DesignExecute2 (DE2) model, our team collaborated with Adelaide Zoo, WAX Design and Ric McConaghy Playspaces to deliver on Adelaide Zoo’s vision.

Our Project Director led an initial brainstorming session with our Design-Led Engineers that guided the design direction and provided ideas for the client and for the other experts involved in the project. We then collaborated with WAX Design to flesh out their design intent based on their early hand-drawn sketches.

02 Develop

Our own internal Design-Led Engineers then created 3D concept drawings that closely mirrored their sketches. Over the course of two to three consultation sessions with WAX Design, a more refined idea of the structure’s look and feel began to take shape. A key benefit of our DE2 approach is that it includes materials selection, so we could recommend appropriate materials, ensure these could be delivered within the budget, and then plan the fabrication, assembly and construction approach.

03 Detail

The team then started working on a thorough and more detailed design based on the knowledge gathered from the previous two steps. At this stage, we produced an exhaustive set of engineering construction certificate drawings. These detailed engineering designs were then translated into shop details by our drafting team.

04 Deliver

By fabricating and pre-assembling all the design elements at our own Workshop in Wetherill Park, a successful outcome was guaranteed.

Once we delivered all of the manufactured pieces to the site, Fleetwood worked closely with the landscape contractor to ensure a seamless construction process. This involved building adequate footings to guarantee the stability of each product. Our Onsite Construction Crew then took over the project and ensured every structure we produced integrated well with the overall play space, including the elements supplied by other firms. This approach was only possible because Fleetwood’s DE2 model covers the full spectrum of every project and allows all parties to collaborative and achieve a great outcome.


The height was very important. Creating a feeling of height to the project was very important to the designers and the Zoo. The ‘tree-top’ walk contributed this aspect to the project, and also the scale of it inspires the kids!

Compliance is key in all play projects

As can be seen here in this picture, there were some really tight areas where we needed to balance design, function and safety carefully. The playspace has ended up being a great design, challenging place for kids to learn their capabilities in the real world and has been audited for compliance with all relevant Australian standards

The Solution

A totally unique play space in a special location that have the kids coming back for more! Parents also love it and it has received rave reviews and many industry awards. All in all, this now regarded as a landmark play project combining beautiful design, form and function.

The process of working with Fleetwood Urban for the Adelaide Zoo Nature’s Playground was excellent. Fleetwood were able to take our ideas and sketches for the custom designed elevated timber play pods and walkways and create practical, buildable and cost effective design solutions that enable all abilities access and the provision of challenging and innovating play that promotes the benefits of risk.

Amanda Balmer Director, Wax Design

Natural finish

Incorporating the warmth, strength and durability of Australian Hardwood was key to the success of the project. All timber was sustainably sourced and is graded class 1. The beautiful natural finish of the grain complements the whole nature play theme.

Project Details


Royal Zoological Society of South Australia

Design Partners

Wax Design | Ric McConaghy Playspaces


City of Adelaide Prize People's Choice Award (2016) | City of Adelaide Prize Commendation (2016) | Civic Trust Bob Such Award for Social Benefit (2016) | AILA National Landscape Architecture Award Play Spaces (2017) | AILA SA Award of Excellence (2017) | AILA SA Tourism Landscape Architecture Award (2016) | Parks & Leisure SA Award of Excellence (2017)