SEQ Shade and Age Friendly Design Case Study

The program was generously funded through the Age Friendly Community Grants from the Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors and was founded around building evidence and research to impact key areas of policy, supportive environments, communities of practice and education. Based around the priority settings of community spaces and schools, Cool and Covered employs co-design, collaborative approaches to reduce the real world health issue of skin cancer. This is the most common cancer in Queensland. Our rates soar higher than other States and Territories and this disease effects and takes the lives of too many Queenslanders each year.

We developed a best practice case study on shade and age friendly design for the design industry.

Our expert panel reviewed images and sites of shaded areas out and about in South East Queensland (SEQ). These images are not provided as recommendations, they are simply prompts for professional discussion on designing age-friendly shaded places in Queensland.

Our project involved a number of components:

  • Baseline assessment of the age-friendly components of a selection of public spaces in South East Queensland: (Publication coming soon)
  • Development of a best practice case study portal on shade and age friendly design for the design industry: (See below)

The team have been working with the Queensland Government Office for Seniors  to present some of this work at the Queensland : an age friendly community workshops (

We’re now working with communities aiming to be recognised as age friendly communities from the World Health Organisation – if your community is keen on working together email us at


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The Panel’s comments:

There are air gaps – better solar protection on top and weather protection underneath.

The roof line extends beyond footprint of the seating. Height is important for shade ; not too low for heat also.

Introduction of battening is nice (vertical shade) to complement skillion. Trying to create an outdoor room with a nice sense of enclosure.

Vertical battons are good, pending the siting of them for sun protection. It is a single skin tin roof so heat could be an issue and insulation could be needed. Cross ventilation is good and ensures hot air can escape.

Has an eave which is good. A textured or black surface would be better to absorb the light. Natural grass helps to absorb UV and complements the light coloured concrete. When irrigated grass absorbs more UV. Irrigated turf is a positive.

Complementary natural shade planting is important especially if located north of the structure.

The path and grass could be more organic but understand this is a maintenance issue and straight lines are easier for mowing. Kids could play on the grass adjacent in natural shade , expanding the usability of the shade. 

Width of path important for connectivity – to make shade enticing and other facilities accessible.

Seating is offset possibly to cater for a wheelchair. Important to make sure there is no trip hazard where bitumen meets concrete.

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The Panel’s comments:

Proximity of the shade to the path is good as the canopy extends over the path. However the panel noted the tree selection of ficus which presents root issues and cracking concrete. This can present trip hazards in pathways.

There is light coloured concrete however the shade is extending over the path.

This is an active commuting space which includes some seating and rest stops. It adjoins a parkland which may encourage other activities and opportunities for community connectivity.

It looks like an inviting area. The path could be wider especially to enable two way pedestrian traffic as well as consideration for prams, walking pets and wheelchair accessibility.

Understand the need for lighting for public safety. This could be an opportunity for the seating to be connected to the green space and greater recognition for how the space could be used. It is also a shame to see the rubbish bin sited beside the seating area.The seat could be sited in the shade and additional seating would be beneficial.

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The Panel’s comments:

The canopy covers the walkway for pedestrians and cyclists.

Given there is no solid roof structure there is no ‘back scatter’ of UV.

Planting of vegetation to the side of the trees also helps reduce reflection of UV.

Good generous scale of space; safe for wheelchairs and accessibility  including handrail and kerb.

A tension membrane structure could be incorporated while trees mature.  There could be an opportunity for seating bays between the trees.  Understand there could be a leaf litter issue from these trees which causes a maintenance issue.

This is a good example of planting with levels with the path, the edge, the barrier constraint and the deep soil planting. 

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The Panel’s comments

Combination of built and natural shade; the height of the structure enables UV protection and wait flow.  Trees could be planted on the non bougainvillea side to provide complementary shade.

The complementary natural planting helps reduce reflectivity off the pathway.  Natural vegetation either side of the structure can be helpful in reducing reflection.

There is a flat wide footpath providing shade and way findings.  There could be considerations of how to manage the shared zone of walking and cycling for older persons.  This structure has many aesthetic qualities.

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The Panel’s comments

This built structure provides a destination within the park.  The ventilation draws on the natural chimney effect.  The single skin tin roof could otherwise be hot.

The established tree on one side would help with shade at some times of the day.  More complementary shade could be planted.

There is a ramp for access yet the balustrade edge could go to the edge of the ramp for easier access. The seating provides a nice respite location.  Perhaps could be wider and maybe include a table area.

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The Panel’s comments

This is a lovely coastal area and the view is important.  The structure provides a lot of space.  Perhaps some of the tables could be spaced apart to enable accessibility.

Vertical shade could assist with both wind protection and shade over longer periods of the day.

The site is flat and provides seemingly easy access with a flat wide footpath adjoining the structure.

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The Panel’s comments

Great to see exercise equipment available in park spaces.  The shade is flat over the structure providing some protection over the day.

The area could be complementary planted and angled shade to provide a cooler and more shaded spaces throughout the day.


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The Panel’s comments

Great to see a community garden space with some surrounding seating and shelter.  The skillion roof provides a cooling effect.  It could perhaps be complemented by some vertical shade, slats or lattice to help with more protection over the day.

This community gathering space looks inviting.  Maybe a lattice structure for a fruit vine could also provide shade and be in keeping with the vegetable garden space.  Pathways around the gardens could help with access as well as benches to hold at the gardens.

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The Panel’s comments

Integrated canopy is nice and great combination of natural and built shade.

Flat wide footpaths for easy access.

Appears to be a cool area and allows for active play and supervision of children.  Appears to connect well to car parking area for easy access.

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The Panel’s comments

Integrated canopy of trees provide dense shade over some parts the path.

Wide flat walking path for active walking with a deliberate winding aspect.  An ongoing challenge is acknowledged of how to provide integrated shade planting over long sections of walking paths.

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The Panel’s comments

Built structures provide a  destination to table areas.  The built structures could be complemented with low planting to help with UV absorption.  The structure could have eaves to assist with sun protection across the day.  Perhaps even a tilt with pitching so there’s a longer edge on the western side.

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The Panel’s comments

The natural infrastructure is soft and informal.  The panel acknowledged this is a older structure as there is no mowing edge around the seating.  An adjoining footpath could help with access.

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The Panel’s comments

The landscaping provides a grove with effective back planting for additional shade.  This aesthetic is iconic to beach locations.

Sand and light coloured concrete could provide high UV refection at certain times of the day.  The seating could include arm rests to assist with being more age friendly.

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The Panel’s comments

The tree canopy provides shade, cooling effects and aesthetics.  The mix of darkness and light provides nice spaces.  Trees with dense canopies like this provide good shade.  Seating could be grouped under such shade.  Again, the shade provides respite across parts of the pathway.

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The Panel’s comments

Great to see active spaces.  The side planting helps with some shade as the sun angles change.  The surrounding surfaces could be planted with low planting.  The shade structure could be tilted, angled or designed for shade as the sun moves across the day.

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The Panel’s comments

Good integrated and well thought response.  The sides of the structure help with vertical shade and the integrated natural shade make it a destination.

To be more age friendly perhaps the decomposed granite could be an issue for access and there could be a little more space at the end of the table.

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The Panel’s comments

The natural shade tree is helpful to complement the structure.  It would otherwise not have vertical protection as the sun angles move.  It would be good to see wider eaves to help with sun protection and pathway access.  Perhaps the seats could have arms to help be more age friendly.

Shade guidelines can be found in the Creating Shade at Public Facilities document:

Creating Shade at Public Facilities

Our community guide on shade and age friendly spaces can be found here:

Shade and Age Friendly Outdoor Spaces: A handy guide


This case study resource  was funded as part of an Age Friendly Community Grant from the Department of Co.