Site-specific design strategy ticks the all-important boxes
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.