Site-spe­cific de­sign strat­egy ticks the all-im­por­tant boxes

Australasian Timber - - AUSTRALIAN TIMBER DESIGN AWARDS -

Alma Park Re­serve Pav­il­ion, St Kilda, Vic­to­ria Com­ple­tion date: 2016 Ar­chi­tects: k20 Ar­chi­tec­ture (Aus­tralian Tim­ber De­sign Awards win­ner in 2014 and again in 2015)

LO­CATED IN the in­ner city sub­urb of St Kilda East, Alma Park is an area of both cul­tural and her­itage sig­nif­i­cance. The bi­tu­men path­way that runs in front of the build­ing is her­itage listed and the trees that sur­round the area are all es­tab­lished. The scale, mass­ing and sit­ing of the two pavil­ions en­gage with the sur­round­ing en­vi­ron­ment while at the same time pro­tect the neigh­bour­hood char­ac­ter of the park.

In or­der to in­cor­po­rate the spe­cific com­po­nents of the brief and min­imise im­pact to the sur­round­ing en­vi­ron­ment, k20 Ar­chi­tec­ture di­vided the pro­gram into two sep­a­rate pavil­ions. With the as­sis­tance of an ar­borist, the tree pro­tec­tion zone was clearly de­fined and main­tained through­out the de­sign and con­struc­tion in an ef­fort to re­tain all ex­ist­ing trees on site. The sit­ing of the pavil­ions were guided by a de­sign process that in­volved a se­ries of map­ping ex­er­cises that over­layed the tree pro­tec­tion zone and the park area to cre­ate the shape of the build­ing with­out dis­rupt­ing the her­itage path­way, ad­ja­cent rail­way or the tree pro­tec­tion zone. The re­sult­ing curve of the build­ing em­anated from the align­ment with the tree pro­tec­tion zone.

The use of a re­flec­tive cladding fin­ish on the por­tion of the build­ing which is shaped by the tree’s pro­tec­tion zone serves to high­light the cur­va­ture of the build­ing as well as re­flect the light, colour and move­ment of the sur­round­ing en­vi­ron­ment. A typ­i­cal ap­proach could have re­sulted in a rec­tan­gu­lar de­sign re­sponse which would have led to the re­moval of a num­ber of the ma­ture Elm trees. k20 Ar­chi­tec­ture main­tained that re­tain­ing ma­ture and healthy trees is im­por­tant for bio-di­ver­sity which re­tains the cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance of place and of Alma Park.

In ad­di­tion to the site-spe­cific de­sign strat­egy, the pro­ject was de­signed to en­cour­age fe­male par­tic­i­pa­tion in sport with the in­cor­po­ra­tion of sep­a­rate toi­lets and sep­a­rate shower cu­bi­cles. The pro­ject pro­vides for sport­ing change rooms and a com­mu­nity kitchen, which serves as a multi-pur­pose space with the abil­ity to cater for a va­ri­ety of func­tions in­clud­ing sport­ing and com­mu­nity events. The pro­ject has gath­ered sup­port from lo­cal coun­cil and sport­ing clubs, with its uni­sex change rooms al­low­ing for in­creased par­tic­i­pa­tion of women in sport.

From a sus­tain­abil­ity per­spec­tive, the pro­ject was de­signed to min­imise en­ergy con­sump­tion across all av­enues of the pro­ject from the spec­i­fi­ca­tion of ma­te­ri­als to day-to-day use of the build­ings. Nat­u­ral day light­ing is max­imised through the use of sky­lights with all ar­ti­fi­cial light­ing con­trolled via mo­tion and day light­ing sen­sors. A wa­ter col­lec­tion sys­tem was in­cor­po­rated for wa­ter re­use in the ameni­ties and very high wa­ter ef­fi­cient fix­tures can be found through­out the pavil­ions. A driv­ing ob­jec­tive for the ma­te­rial se­lec­tion was to pro­vide a low-main­te­nance fin­ish to with­stand pub­lic use. Con­crete within the pro­ject in­cludes a highly re­cy­cled con­tent to re­duce the em­bod­ied en­ergy within the ma­te­rial. In ad­di­tion, the struc­tural slab sys­tem was selected as a min­i­mal im­pact so­lu­tion to ad­ja­cent old growth trees.

The great­est chal­lenge for the pro­ject was in­cor­po­rat­ing the pro­gram within a highly con­tex­tual re­sponse and the out­come is that of a se­ries of build­ings which are re­flec­tive of their en­vi­ron­ment. This is high­lighted by the use of a re­flec­tive cladding fin­ish for the por­tion of the build­ing which is shaped based on the tree pro­tec­tion zone and the re­main­ing fa­cades clad in sus­tain­ably sourced re­cy­cled tim­ber cladding iron bark. Th­ese el­e­ments com­bine to heighten the con­nec­tion and re­la­tion­ship of the pro­ject within the cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance of Alma Park.

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