Central to the design of the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens playspace was a desire to stimulate both physical and imaginative play. Effective community consultation led to the design of the customised elements, whose themes are informed by the area’s gold mining history and the ‘pleasure garden’ setting of the site, rich material for enthusiastic visitors.
The project centres around a previously-commissioned picnic shelter intended to reference the original design and orientation of a former structure in the Gardens. Notable custom elements include a ‘treehouse’ area, equipment for physical play, such as a hammock and a junior kids’ structure that features bespoke oak leaf panels. The gold-mining theme inspired a miner’s cottage and log train that travels towards an arching bridge structure.
The pleasure garden area has a formal path structure, framed by an arbour designed to play with one’s sense of perspective, and incorporates several other themed, sensory elements, such as a spinning mirror door. A collaboration with sculptor Nicholas Dunand, inspired by the listed and historic ‘Royal Oak’ which forms the backdrop for the playspace, resulted in striking bronze sculptures of leaves and acorns which are scattered through the playspace.
Local sourcing of materials was of paramount importance and contributes to the establishment of a strong sense of place. This included the recycling and integration of logs sourced from tree lopping from within the Gardens themselves.
Mount Alexander Shire Council
Winner of the 2012 Kidsafe National Design Awards, Public Playspaces $500K-$1M
Nicholas Dunand Sculptor
Dja Dja Wurrung People