Leopold Child & Family Centre
Leopold Child and Family Centre is a early years childcare facility catering for children between 0 - 5 years old in a quickly developing neighbourhood in Geelong. There are four parts to this project of which 3 we were engaged to upgrade. Our brief was to re-imagine the 3 part project with practicalities such as adequate built and natural shade options, reduction of cold south westerly winds to the 0-12 areas, overall durability, containment of sand and soil play. Our approach to play requests were creating environments which invite open ended interactions, spontaneity risk taking, exploration, discovery all within a nature based environment. During our early discussions we found out that names had been assigned to each of the class groups to help with identification and sense of belonging. These names provided an ocean based theme, jellyfish, seals, seahorse etc. and added a fun design element and opportunity to bring the namesakes to physical form in the play spaces.
Considering the Child and Family centre existing landscape was still somewhat usable, we ensured to do as much equipment recycling as possible along with a high consideration of retaining existing trees and structures into the new proposal. A predominant natural material pallet also helped to bind the project by cohesive look and feel whilst performing with inherent durability. A pallet consisting of boulders, logs, gravels, sand, dirt, timber boardwalks and native planting provided a highly interactive value. One of our bespoke design items was the shade structure made from tapered cypress posts, still with bark on, rustic sawn face cypress rafters and army camouflage netting providing the actual shade. We also provide an option with a tea tree roof cladding to provide dappled shade. Both provide a natural look and subordinate presence from precedent shade sail structures. From the children’s perspective the tapered posts present as tree trunks and the shade material presenting as foliage or branches overhead provides a bush like play space. We introduce unique touches of character to each area through translating the group names to ‘mascot’ and/or experiential status in the play space.