Thomas Oval Dog Park | South Yarra, Australia | Hansen Partnership

The City Stonnington, located just 3km from Melbourne’s CBD, boasts a population of over 8,000 registered dogs. Recognising the need for a dog-centric outdoor destination, the City of Stonington set out to create a space that would cater to the needs of both dogs and their owners.

After careful consideration, the council identified Thomas Oval as a prime location for a new dog-friendly activity area. While the site’s elevated topography and limited access points previously rendered it relatively underutilised, its close proximity to the Yarra River and shared path network and its extended areas of open space to the south made it an ideal candidate for the project.

Despite the extensive level of fill at the site, which initially posed a challenge, Hansen Partnership, in collaboration with WSP Australia, could leverage geotechnical and engineering advice to inform the construction works. 3D modelling allowed all site spoil to be retained on site. This eliminated the need for costly removal and ensured that the project was delivered on budget.

The project carefully considers several key design principles and objectives, including delivering a new dedicated dog off-leash area, providing additional natural shading, and improving nighttime usage and safety with solar lighting.

In consultation with the nearby community, dog walkers, visitors, and stakeholders established a preference for natural features and materials and a simple layout with spaces for active and quiet dogs.

The completed Thomas Oval Dog Park incorporates canine-friendly features, including an expansive grassed play zone, a dry riverbed, stone boulders, and a feature redgum log as a centrepiece, sourced from the Fallen Timber Furniture Co. This popular addition to the main space is an indigenous red gum species of the area, and subtly makes reference to the Yarra River environs of the project. A palette of Australian native and indigenous species has been used, which ties in with the lower park area and borrowed landscape. The quiet zone has its own dedicated entry and has been mulched to encourage low-intensity activities.

The dog park was integrated into the broader Thomas Oval setting, and a pedestrian loop circuit passes exercise equipment to allow the area to be enjoyed by community members who do not own a dog, with new concrete footpaths providing a fitness loop.

With careful consideration of design principles and objectives, Thomas Oval Dog Park has become a prime location that is inclusive, making it an ideal destination for all community members.

Thomas Oval Dog Park

Location: South Yarra, Victoria, Australia
Landscape Architect: Hansen Partnership
Engineering: WSP
Collaborators: The project is a collaborative effort between Hansen Partnership, key stakeholders (including the City of Stonnington and the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action) and the local community
Photography: Andrew Lloyd Photography

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Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at