Where Perth meets the sparkling waters of the Indian Ocean, the Scarborough Beach precinct has long been a treasured beachside destination for locals and tourists alike. From an early morning surf to watching a spectacular sunset that farewells the Australian day, Scarborough is an established icon and expression of WA urban beach culture.

To address the needs of a growing community, the public realm infrastructure was well overdue for an upgrade. What was the foreshore’s past expansive carpark culture is now required to provide a welcoming active experience for all ages. The challenge for the design team was to maintain the gritty urban ‘edginess’ of the historic precinct through this historically sensitive, yet significant transformation.

The TCL /UDLA team recognised from an early stage in the project evaluation that this intervention will not be the last and therefore adopted a more fluid approach to dealing with the site’s spatial, as well as adhering to an over-arching principle: ‘It’s all about the beach.’ The subject site is approximately 1km-long and 100m-wide running north-south with unhindered views across the Indian Ocean.

The project has achieved excellence in functionality, cultural significance, sustainability, flexibility and urban design. These outcomes have been achieved by six key moves:

  1. Create The Scarborough Esplanade – The Esplanade is the key interface between Scarborough beach and the urban edge, previously a convoluted journey through car parks as a primary means of arrival for many visitors, the first move was to create a single Esplanade from Brighton Road in the south to Reserve Street in the north. The Esplanade is designed as a low speed, pedestrian-focused precinct to manage cars and cyclists with a new promenade containing tree plantings, WSUD garden beds and pedestrian crossing points as a positive safe pedestrian experience for beach access. The Esplanade also plays an important environmental role—its extensive WSUD garden beds and tree plantings reduce the visual dominance of carparking, whilst providing crucial sun and wind protection and providing passive irrigation and recharging of the water table.
  1. Activate the Esplanade – A series of new facilities including a new public swimming pool and programs creates a vibrant public realm. With its western orientation, the residents and traders of the existing building edge have exceptional views of the ocean framed by new rows of Norfolk Island Pines.
  2. Form Scarborough’s Heart – At the centre of the precinct is a new highly programmable civic centre, Scarborough Square, which forms the foreshore’s vibrant heart. A new central plaza space has been created that complements the existing amphitheatre, punctuated with the relocated Clock Tower marking a central meeting place. In a collaboration between Chaney Architects and local Noongar artist Sharon Egan, the vibrant red and yellow shade structures frame and shade this central space.
  1. The Promenades – Prior to the revitalization, continuous north-south movement for pedestrians along the Scarborough Foreshore was impossible. Creating the Upper and Lower Promenades was critical to building a connected public realm. The two promenades run parallel the full length of the site north -south and define the levels and spaces for the proposed activation and future developments on the foreshore.
  1. Activate the Promenades – Within these two promenades is a series of activity nodes providing a range of experiences. The first major attraction is the new playground whose design is inspired by the Local Aboriginal Whadjuk story of whales returning spirits of past relatives’ home, with the striking Whale Skeleton play feature fabricated by Aboriginal artist Jahne Rees. The next attractor is Sunset Hill, a simple grassed mound that affords excellent views of the beach, the sunset and views from Fremantle to Hillary’s. ‘The Snake Pit’ is an active precinct that includes a 12-foot-deep skate bowl, boulder climbing structures, half basketball court, toilets, and street skate areas. The skate facilities were designed to allow international skating competitions. Two development hubs will contain new retailers from boutique beach products to restaurants. South of the Square is the new Surf Life Saving Club and Beach Services buildings, with the new Scarborough Beach Pool completing the new beach experience.
  1. Link the Promenades to the beach – A series of new ramps and stairs provide simple, more universally accessible direct access to the beach.


The transformation of the public realm from a carpark-dominated environment into a connected, activated and pedestrian-focused precinct has elevated the many qualities of this environment and cemented Scarborough’s national significance as a vibrant urban beachfront.


Other designers involved in the design of landscape:

Collaboration with UDLA, Chaney Architects, ARUP, ENLOCUS and Development WA

Project location: Scarborough, Perth, WA 6019, Australia

Design year: 2013

Year Built: 2018


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