Activating Heywood Park


 As one of the largest areas of open spaces in the City of Unley, Heywood Park is valued for its social, cultural, environmental and historical significance to the Unley Community. Over the past 5 years, activating Heywood Park has progressively evolved to provide new recreational experiences in both the physical and digital realm. Activating Heywood Park delivers a public space that engages with local community, creating wildlife habitat, strengthening access and safety, smart technology initiatives and preserving the natural character of the beloved park. 

Biodiversity Zones and Habitat Creation

The ongoing establishment of the Biodiversity Zones since 2015 has facilitated a more resilient neighbourhood park highlighting the natural beauty of both the trees and their natural surrounds. Heywood Park is home to some of the oldest, most valued Grey Box’s (Eucalyptus macrocarpa) trees in the city. The biodiversity zones designed by Council, consisting of establishing trees with mulching, recycled logs and a range of native plantings, help moderate the moisture loss and microclimate, reinstating the natural amenity for a prospering wildlife habitat. These enhancements help contribute to increased community awareness and appreciation for the valued historical trees and the importance of green infrastructure. 

Smart Technology

Following the successful magical park transformation in 2017, Council secured a $264,000 Smart Cities and Suburbs Grant from the Federal Government to integrate a range of smart technology initiatives across the park. 

At first glance, the presence of smart technology at Heywood park is almost invisible, as it is concealed underground or hidden within existing infrastructure systems. The range of smart technologies include:

  • Electrical car charging station
  • Predictive lighting for energy efficiency and safety
  • Digital kiosks for the latest information and wayfinding 
  • Sensor parking bays linked to online apps for users to check availability and enable Council to track visitors
  • Monitored water usage of toilet amenities and drinking fountains to help maintenance and operating costs  
  • Data of usage and maintenance notifications for emptying bins and cleaning BBQ’s 

All data collection is uploaded to a cloud platform, assisting Council to monitor the park’s usage and user activity throughout the day, helping contribute to future planning. 

In addition to the Smart Technology initiatives, Council repaved pathways and installed new energy efficient LED lights to improve night-time visibility for pedestrians and cyclists. 

The introduction of Smart Technology has made it easier for Council to develop future planning, predict operating and maintenance costs and provide economic benefit to local community for long-term cost savings. This has illustrated Council’s initiative to lead change on how to plan for a digital future in our neighbourhood parks.  

Mini Ninja Playspace

In 2018, a community-led initiative gained support of over 200 local residents to receive a grant of $150,000 to build a Mini Ninja Playspace through the Fund My Neighbourhood Grant Program. 

Driven by this financial support, Council embarked to build a challenging Mini Ninja course suitable for ‘Tweens’ aged between 9-14 years old. The course utilises local resources from the park and a range of bespoke climbing material to create a two-person circuit loop, encouraging users to test their fitness, strength, agility and balance similar to Ninja Warrior movements. During its construction, best practice techniques were employed to protect existing tree-protection zones. 

The Mini Ninja course encourages imagination and creates custom experiences for the individual. In addition, a nearby digital kiosk allows users to download an app to measure their race time on the digital board. 

The overall process of design, community engagement and construction ran in parallel with the Smart Technology implementation. Council, Landscape Architect (CLOVER) and Contractor (Elton Landscapes) worked very closely together with the successful grant applicants to provide a successful economic outcome to balance expenditure within the confines of the available budget. 

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Northgate Street, Unley Park 5061  View Map

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