Bright Minds Kindergarten - Bannockburn
The Bright Minds Early Learning Centre is a privately owned and run project developed to provide for the intense population growth of Bannockburn and the Golden Plains Shire. The business owner had a vision to provide a high quality service and environment with a point of difference to separate from the competing centres in the area. The key objectives of the play spaces were to be of native/nature based character integrating the adjacent Wabdallah Reserve back drop whilst including play elements such as veggie patch, mudpie, chook and Guinea pig pen, tunnels, water play and activities requiring balance, crawling through, hiding and climbing.
To combat repetitive and predictable play spaces our design approach has always begins with an investigation of the ‘place’ and its history. Sifting through stories and unique character of the specific place, more often than not has given us clear and un-packable under stories to design with. With this project, Robert the Bruce and the Battle of Bannockburn, namesake of this town, is celebrated as the understory to this early learning centre. As the story goes, Robert found himself defeated and in hiding when he noticed a spider's seemingly futile attempts to build a web. Six times it failed, swinging from one beam to the next. On the seventh it succeeded. Robert recognised from this epiphany the possibility, determination and persistence which would be required to defeat the English. He threw off despair and regrouped to fight the English for 8 years in the Battle of Bannockburn eventually running them out of Scotland. We celebrate this story literally through the spider sculpture element and rope play providing challenge, balance, determination, courage and so on. We also represent the battle itself through forts and open lawn battle spaces for re-enactment.
The town itself was settled on Bruce’s creek and as stop point for rail transport of gold between Geelong and Ballarat. We reference the train line in sleeper inserts into the perimeter pathway (removed for budget reasons)and the river/and gold panning through the pebble mix creek bed.
This site backs up to the Wabdallah reserve. We make connection here by keeping the perimeter fencing transparent, selecting mostly local indigenous planting within the play space to dilute the effect of the fence and invite the reserve inwards and the children’s imaginations outwards.