Centre of Learning for family Violence

Insight: Inverting trauma-informed principles to instructive effect

As experts in justice sector design, we understand the potency of calming, trauma-informed architecture. We have designed Children’s Court waiting rooms and cubby spaces that comfort victims and their families. Prison cells with more hopeful outlooks have contributed to lower incidence rates in incarceration, too, assisting rehabilitation goals. But in a recent collaboration with the Victoria Police at the Academy in Glen Waverley, we inverted this thinking to help drive innovative education outcomes for recruits.

The Centre of Learning for Family Violence opened in April 2019, and will feature this evening on Channel 31’s Sacred Spaces. In a first for police educational infrastructure design in Australia, FMSA collaborated with Victoria Police to realise an innovative simulation centre that encourages a deep understanding of the dynamics of family violence, and develops strategies and practical skills for the management of perpetrators and unpredictable scenarios.

According to Kevin Casey, the Assistant Commissioner of People Development Command – which includes the Victoria Police Academy, the police respond to an increasing number of family violence incidents every year. In the past 12 months to June 2020, Victoria Police responded to more than 88,200 family violence incidents, an increase of 6.7 per cent and the highest on record. Consuming between 40 and 60 per cent of policing time, this represents a significant policing challenge that calls for considered research and investment. The Sacred Spaces broadcast offers a crucial insight into the design of this innovative and victim centric training facility.

We know it is the accumulation of design elements that amount to either a positive or negative experience of architecturally designed space. Where trauma-informed design should be soothing, the Centre of Learning for Family Violence attempts to curate the opposite effect. Complex sensory elements are layered within the design in an effort to raise recruits’ anxiety levels, activate opportunities for decision-making, and prepare them to better respond to the incidents they will eventually face on duty.

Details demonstrate a compounding of visual and other sensory cues that might distract recruits and test their training. Beyond the high fence, long pavers draw the visitor to the front door, and wet-look grass offers a further subliminal deterrence from crossing the yard to check blind corners for potential threats first. Educators layer the built environment with “scent theatre” – acrid and overpowering smells that offer further sensory distraction.

Behind the front door, we worked with Victoria Police to detail a realistic home-like canvas that educators can customise to appear as a particular location or demographic. Today, the room might look like a student apartment, tomorrow, an elderly couple’s house in the suburbs. Actors bring the setting to life as victims and perpetrators, role playing various immersive and potentially dangerous simulations in what is a safe and supported learning environment for recruits. Long curtains, ample cupboards and multiple points of entry and exit facilitate changing scenarios and opportunities for risk assessment.

With scenarios streamed to remote learning centres in other parts of the state, and to the classrooms and lecture theatres on site, educators can discuss appropriate responses and anticipate variations unique to locale with a greater number of recruits in real-time. With this built-in technological capability, Victoria Police can train up to 1200 recruits per year. During a global pandemic, this access to current education has proved even more potent than ever.

To offer privacy to the simulations, we reworked the original plan to distance the Simulation Centre from the rest of the facilities. This generated extra room for a driveway outside the simulated home environment and with it, additional opportunities for learning.

A welcoming central atrium for the new Academy headquarters stands in stark contrast with the anonymity of the simulation centre. An extroverted canopy extends respectfully towards the historically significant chapel on site, and the open stairwell encourages interaction between recruits, staff and sworn members. The iconic Sillitoe tartan inspired skylights render this communal space even more welcoming, drawing light down to brighten the double-height void.

The offices, too, are more sociable in their design and early feedback suggests the open plan has been well received. Management reports co-location of other policing units and teams has built positive relationships and led to better collaborations and project outcomes, narrowing the gap between operational and training environments.

The Centre of Learning for Family Violence featured on Sacred Spaces in October on Channel 31 and Foxtel Aurora, and is now available to view on Youtube.

Photography: Blue Tree Studios

In conversation | The future of Educational Architecture

The way education is delivered has rapidly changed in 2020 as remote learning became the norm for many students at all stages of their education journey. Recently FMSA Interior Designer Chiara Abbassaggi joined Marcello Caspani-Muto of CBRE in conversation about the future of educational architecture.

Drawing on FMSA’s expertise in the design of education environments, Chiara and Marcello discuss how the design of schools will change, and what innovations we can expect to see in this space.

To view the interview, visit the CBRE youtube page or in this post.

Press: FMSA Architecture creates Australia’s first ‘scenario-based’ family violence training centre

The recently completed Victoria Police Centre of Learning for Family Violence has been featured on Australian Design Review.  The Centre, which is designed by FMSA Architecture for Victoria Police, includes Australia’s first scenario training and simulation spaces dedicated to training those on the front-line of family violence.

Of the project FMSA Director Greg Anson comments “As architects we have a unique opportunity to shape the way we live, work and learn. The Centre of Learning for Family Violence demonstrates how informed and collaborative design can boost the quality of training environments for front line agencies like Victoria Police, which in turn improves social outcomes for the wider community.”

Read the full article on Australian Design Review

Media: New net-zero energy PICAC Narre Warren education centre featured in Create

Australia is set to have its first Net Zero Energy education and research facility, the Plumbing Industry Climate Action Centre (PICAC) at Narre Warren.

The landmark project was recently featured by Create.Digital.  The article discusses how our collaboration with engineers NDY has delivered an ambitious design using the latest sustainable design innovations. Read more here:


Press | Alpine Residence featured by Australian Design Review

Recently the Australian Design Review featured our project the Alpine Residence as an exemplar project in their recent article ‘Australian alpine architecture: three of the best’.

Located on the isolated Redbank Plain in Victoria’s High Country, the Alpine Residence is a modern alpine home. Off the grid, the brief was to design a high quality ‘original’ house appropriate for the alpine climate and remote location, minimise energy consumption and maintenance demands.

Read the article at https://www.australiandesignreview.com/…/alpine-architectu…/

Photographer: Mark Munro Photography 

Press: Notes from Community Plumbing Challenge South Africa

Last year Kirstin Griese had the privilege to participating in the 2016 Community Plumbing Challenge as the Team Australia Design Lead. Taking place in Diepsloot – Johannesburg, South Africa, the goal of the Community Plumbing Challenge program was to demonstrate the vital role of the plumbing industry in protecting public health.

In this months Australian Plumbing Magazine Kirstin shares her experience from the Challenge providing an insight into what it is like to work with limited tools in a place where the struggle for sanitation is a part of every day life.

A life changing experience, Kirstin best sums up the impact in saying ”What we did was plant a seed. On a global level, that seed may have been small but grew and flourished into other better things.”

To read the full interview visit the plumbers.com.au website here.

Masterchef Australia serves up tasty treats at the Richmond Rowing Club

Eagle eye Masterchef fans might have spotted one of our projects the Richmond Rowing Club on screen last night. The lucky contestants had a masterclass with judges Gary, George and Matt on the banks of the Yarra from the deck of the Richmond Rowing Club.

Designed by FMSA, the new extension of the Richmond Rowing Club creates an elegant bookend to the iconic recreational rowing shed precinct.

FMSA oriented the expansion to take in the iconic view across the Yarra River and Melbourne City skyline. The flexible space and outdoor deck caters for training, education, and now televised cooking classes!

Check out the episode and the stunning views at Richmond Rowing Club for yourself over at Ten Play

Press: Ashwood Chadstone Gateway featured online

Ashwood Chadstone Gateway Project is a project that reflects our commitment to deliver socially conscious solutions.  The development includes a mixture of affordable rental properties for singles, couples, families and older people on low to moderate incomes, as well as privately owned dwellings. In total the development provides 210 social housing apartments and townhouses, plus a further 72 privately owned dwellings.

Our approach to deliver a conscious community resulted in ongoing value and connection for the residents and helped to reduce the stigma often associated with affordable housing.

Recently the project has been featured on a number of online industry sites, check them out at:

Architecture & Design


Seniors Housing.net