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Planning community spaces

Well-planned and designed community facilities should be ‘fit for purpose’ and provide a benefit for the local community by:

  • Enabling the delivery of programs and services in locations and at times that suit the local community
  • Playing an important role in encouraging healthy and active lifestyles
  • Promoting public safety and accessibility
  • Enhancing natural assets
  • Minimising the need for frequent maintenance (due to vandalism or exposure to the elements)
  • Contributing to minimising public health risks (such as exposure to dangerous levels of ultraviolet radiation).

Shade, public health and community wellbeing

How you plan and develop local community spaces will help to ensure that they are well used and enjoyed by the public.

Including the provision of shade into any community project will lead to safer, more pleasant surroundings that support:

  • The state’s sun safety agenda
  • The delivery of ‘healthy lifestyle’ programs and activities
  • Local sport and recreation programs.

Considerations for shade planning

When planning your community space or facility add the following checklists to your initial scoping, and factor in shade protection from the beginning of the project.


  • How the area will be used:
    • Is it for outdoor activities that involve the wearing of minimal clothing, e.g. the beach or pool?
    • Will people be in the environment for longer than 10 minutes when the UV index is 3 or above?
    • Will it primarily be used by children or adults?
    • Is the activity seasonal? Most people wear less clothing in summer so shade protection for summer activities needs to provide as much UVR protection as possible.
  • Temperature and climate:
    • Cool temperatures do not necessarily mean there is no danger from UVR.
    • Shaded areas do not have to be dark and cool to be UVR protective. You can create UVR protective shade which is comfortably warm and sunlit in the cooler seasons.
  • Fit for purpose:
    • Is the community space or facility comfortable and easy to use? Does it suit the community?
    • Does it provide adequate UVR protection, at different times of the day or year?
    • Does it blend with or enhance the surrounding environment?
    • Does it allow good visibility for safety?

Key design principles for effective shade

These principles should underpin the planning and design of new shade solutions.

  1. Effective shade should provide a barrier that protects users from all types of UVR. Consider:
    • The type of shading structure (natural or built, temporary or permanent?)
    • The sun’s angle at different times of the year. This should affect the height and design of structures.
    • Materials you use for shade and surrounding surfaces.
    • Suitable trees, shrubs and ground covering plants.
  2. The shaded outdoor space should be comfortable to use in all seasons and should be attractive, practical and environmentally sensitive. Your plan should:
    • Include climate appropriate design strategies.
    • Ensure thermal comfort.
    • Prevent vandalism through good design.
    • Promote safety and security.
  3. Well-designed shade should ensure that there is shelter from UVR where it is needed; at the right time of the day and at the right time of the year. Your planning should:
    • Determine place specific requirements.
    • Take into account the site, function and projected usage
    • Accurately predict shade patterns (Understand and exploit sun path dynamics).

Download Shade design factors to limit UVR—it outlines key factors to consider when planning and designing shade solutions.

Read more about sun and shade basics

Last updated: 20 April 2016