Funded by SC Johnson, the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre boasts a new Gardenscape Nature Area located in the existing green space northwest of the building’s main entrance. It will provide a unique outdoor learning space that connects people of all ages to nature and encourages creative learning and play.
The Gardenscape will consist of large locally-sourced glacial-erratic boulders placed throughout and will celebrate Brantford’s glacial land forms. Inspired by the Grand River, water will create linkage and flow. A child-sized hand pump will trickle water down a rocky waterfall from a central covered patio to the sand area below. A dry creek bed and mosaic paving will then intertwine to continue this “river” of water through the Gardenscape. The entrance archways, central pavilion and garden furniture will be built from local hardwood logs and wood rafters reclaimed from the old hockey rink.
Two archways will anchor each end of the main pathway and interpretive signage will identify the purpose and vision of this oasis and a pavilion will sit atop a gentle hill at the centre of the space, providing framed views of the native wildflower meadow and the Gretzky family bronze sculpture. The pavilion's custom “wave” design will combine art and nature while providing enclosure, seating, and shelter. Completely accessible throughout, each pocket along the pathway will provide a space for every age and every ability to enjoy a sensory experience.
Connection to Nature:
Local builders, logs and indigenous plants will create a much needed home and stopover for birds and butterflies and will contribute to the emotional and physical well being of people who use the space. Guided by a local artist, community projects like the creation of the waterway mosaics will reflect the flora and fauna of the natural landscape of Brantford while increasing community engagement and ownership of the Gardenscape. This will be a sanctuary that provides connection to nature and reminds us of the positive role we can all play as an important part of the ecosystem.
Rolling topography will embrace pockets of play spaces for year-round fun for children. Sand and water together will provide them with an opportunity to manipulate their environment and build their very own dams, mud-pies, castles and creations. A simple spiral of simple vertical “wacky-posts” will become store-fronts, forts, mazes, and frames for a leaf or snow hut or anything a child can dream up. Glacial erratic boulders of different sizes and shapes will provide graduated physical challenge for all abilities. The spiral bench will provide seating around a tree for small groups or act as a balance-beam for older children and a continuous hand-rail for little ones learning to walk. Similarly, the large oak-slab picnic tables and massive carved log chairs will provide lunch seating for groups of up to ten adults while children will interpret this furniture creatively as forts and home bases as they incorporate them into their unstructured play.
Click to view renderings of the Gardenscape