PICAC Narre Warren

Developed by PICAC in partnership with international research and certification organisation IAPMO, the new PICAC Narre Warren campus is a comprehensive training and research facility dedicated to training the plumbing industry. The new facility is on track to be Victoria’s first Net Zero Energy (NZE) certified education facility, with the 12 month certification period ending at the end of June 2021. The training facility, designed for the plumbing industry, will generate all energy required to support the operation of the building on site through the incorporation of several renewable energy technologies.

PICAC Narre Warren is the third and largest campus designed for PICAC by FMSA, following the Brunswick and Geelong campuses.

The Narre Warren facility is shared by PICAC and the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO). IAPMO are one of the world’s leading plumbing product certification agencies and the Fullard Road site will house IAPMO R&T Oceana’s new research centre and product testing laboratory. PICAC’s students and the plumbing industry as a whole benefit from the collated arrangement with IAPMO as training needs associated with new innovation and evolving technologies are identified as they progress through the IAPMO certification process.  This uniquely positions PICAC to proactively address industry training needs early in the life-cycle of new plumbing products and technologies.

Learn more about the new Training Campus and get an insight into the construction process:

The architectural brief for Narre Warren resolved to develop a Net Zero Energy Design facility that would provide a creative, sustainable environment that links learning and training with product certification and research. The curriculum then connects with commercial opportunity and job certainty. The NZE designed building expresses and brings together these Learning to Production linkages. The comprehensive building services are reticulated on display throughout the open structure, the building is an expression of a legible textbook.

FMSA Architecture collaborated with NDY and Hutchinson Builders to achieve the Net Zero Energy Design, incorporating an array of building construction and services features.

A key contributor to the NZE success is the incorporation of a ground source heat pump system, to heat and cool the insulated ground slab. The field pipework for geothermal heat exchange flow and return water pipelines were installed into the structural screw piles during the foundation and substructure works.  As a ‘filled’ site, the screw pile footing system was logical for the soft foundation. To install and grout the flow and return lines into the screw pile is innovative, significantly building cost efficiencies into an otherwise capital intensive system.  The screw pile geothermal heat exchange lines supply the Heat pumps, servicing the in-slab heating and cooling network to provide a continually adjusted heat monitored, insulated ground slab.

Most notably, the facility is the first in Australia to utilize building foundation screw piling to source geothermal energy for the buildings heating and cooling requirements. 192 x 13 metre deep energy piles and 28 geothermal bores were drilled to a depth of 100 metres using a new specialized Commachio drill from Italy. Together the 220 wells are used for the Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) system to heat and cool the building. The GSHP system integrates thermal heat loops within the structural screw piles for geothermal heat exchange. There is a Solar PV array comprised of 776 panels generating up to 275kW of electricity installed to contribute to the energy needs of the building.

Other building features supporting the net zero energy consumption include;

  • Indirect Evaporative Cooling, a system that uses an evaporative cooling process to deliver air conditioning, but without humidifying the air to the space. The main advantage is their low cost and high effectiveness, compared to traditional air conditioning. Since the units operate with 100% outside air, they are perfect for high occupancy spaces where a wider tolerance for acceptable indoor air conditions is appropriate.
  • An extensive roof mounted 776 solar PV installation with the primary target to achieve an annual generation of 273MWh, to enable the site to achieve a net zero consumption target. The advanced system has inbuilt optimisers which provide diagnostic maintenance tracking and the poor performance of a panel does not result in the performance of an entire string being compromised.
  • Full LED lighting solution with sensor management and dimmable response systems.
  • Roof decking is constructed throughout with the Structural Insulated Panel System (SIPS). The integrated insulation within a sandwich of colorbonded steel decking provides greater spanning capability with stable insulation properties.
  • Exterior walls are constructed with Thermomass Insulated precast concrete sandwich panels. Extruded polystyrene insulation is layered between two concrete panels being held together by specifically designed Thermomass connectors.
  • Double glazing with thermal break window framing and high performance solar tinting.
  • Strategic window solar louvers and eyebrow shading.
  • Storm water capturing for toilet flushing.
  • Air tightness thoroughly specified and tested for all building elements, walls, openings and seals.

As a leader in education and training for the plumbing industry, PICAC  wanted to ensure that PICAC Narre Warren showcases the world’s very best leading edge technology and equipment centred around achieving Net Zero Energy and water related sustainability in order to directly display these technologies to the students who will be learning at the centre.

By showcasing the world’s very best and engaging leading edge technology PICAC has created an exciting training environment, engaging employees, employers and a research authority to educate the plumbers of tomorrow, today.

Key spatial features include a six-storey testing tower, two storey flexible training workshops, wet testing labs, 120 set lecture theatre and WSUD training and staff and student theoretical training rooms.

The building officially opened in September 2019 in conjunction with the 2019 World Plumbing Conference.

Awards + Recognition

Commendation | 2021 Victorian Chapter Australian Institute of Architects Sustainable Architecture category

High Commendation | 2020 Sustainability Awards – Education & Research

Winner |  2020 AIRAH Excellence in Sustainability Award

Jury Citation | 2021 AIA Sustainable Architecture Award commendation
Victoria’s first net zero energy education and research facility, PICAC Narre Warren is a climate action centre accommodating training for plumbers and research and certification of emerging plumbing technologies. The project served as a test bed for an innovative new hybrid screw pile/geothermal bore system reducing heating and cooling energy consumption. PICAC not only deploys sustainable building systems operationally but reveals them throughout the building, benefiting learners and showcasing them to industry, accelerating the adoption of these systems.

Centre of Learning for Family Violence

Victoria Police Centre of Learning for Family Violence

Following a competitive tender process, builder Ireland Brown Construction and FMSA Architecture were engaged by Victoria Police to deliver a new training and office accommodation facility under a design and construct arrangement. Designed and built in 10 months, the new ‘Centre of Learning for Family Violence’ collocates practical training spaces for cadets with office accommodation for Victoria Police Academy staff.

The state of the art facility includes the first scenario training facility dedicated to family violence in Australia. The space is adaptable to a number of scenarios using division curtains and adaptable entries to simulate different socio-economic domestic situations. The space will be used by trainees including cadets, superintendents, commander, lawyers, prosecutors and investigators.

The building is divided into two wings connected by a central open atrium featuring skylights reflecting the Victoria Police sillitoe tartan pattern. The building accommodates a 60 seat auditorium, 15 syndicate rooms, training rooms, offices, separate staff and cadet mess and amenities facilities, conference and meeting rooms. Training spaces are fitted with state of the art video technology that allows scenario training sessions to be live streamed to trainees on and off campus.

The main features of the building include glazed façade, metal cladding, composite timber cladding, sizeable female and male change areas, exposed aggregate pathways, a large canopy to the entry/external courtyards and a terrace overlooking the main academy building.

The aim of the design was to enhance the presence of the main academy structure and existing landscape. This has been achieved through the layout and the orienting the building towards the existing historic seminary building and curving the form to follow the existing curved pathway through the campus.

Photographer: Rachael Dere

Video: Victoria Police

Education Profile

With over 30 years experience designing learning spaces, Education is one of the key sectors for FMSA Architecture.

We have designed solutions for all levels of the education pathways including early childhood, primary, secondary, tertiary and special development schools providing campus masterplanning, new facilities and refurbishments at campuses across Victoria for projects for the private colleges, independent schools and organisations including:

  • Department of Education & Early Childhood Development
  • Catholic Education Office (Ballarat Office)
  • Methodist Ladies’ College
  • Wesley College
  • Melbourne High School
  • Carey Baptist Grammar
  • Melbourne Montessori School
  • School for Student Leadership
  • St Leonards College
  • Chisholm Institute of TAFE
  • Monash University
  • Wodonga Institute of TAFE
  • University of Melbourne
  • PICAC Training Facilities

We see the role of design for education as one which creates an environment of intellectual excellence where mind, body and spirit are nurtured.

Throughout our extensive experience we aimed to create sustainable value for both the clients and the end users with an approach to design focusing on the 5 key issues:

  • Research, Collaboration and Consultation
  • Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • Adaptive and Flexible Spaces
  • Sustainable and Holistic site responses
  • Innovation and design quality

Our proven approach and case studies are detailed in our Education profile video (above).

Visit our education section for selected project profiles.


PICAC Beenleigh

PICAC Beenleigh is the fourth training centre delivered by FMSA for PICAC following the Brunswick, Geelong and Narre Warren facilities; and the first outside Victoria. The Beenleigh project is a staged redevelopment and expansion of an existing industrial site to accommodate the operation of industry educational training.

With a focus on sustainable practices, the warehouse style facilities provide practical training scenarios and interactive displays including water, welding and gas rooms, plant rooms, height & sandpit training, 6-star house and fire protection. Stage 2 of the multi stage project was completed via a design and construct arrangement in September 2019.

PICAC Geelong Trade Development Centre

PICAC Geelong trade development centre is a highly specialised training facility for plumbing professionals designed to support skill development programs for the next generation of sustainable and water efficient buildings.

Following the success of the PICAC Brunswick Campus, FMSA Architecture was again engaged by PICAC to design their second Victorian campus to enable PICAC to provide unique, world class training opportunities in the Western region.

Following the design of the campus masterplan, FMSA designed the first stage of the project – the Trade Development Centre.

The Trade Development Centre consists of two levels, totaling approximately 1,800m2. Features include four training rooms, double height open training area and a machinery and operating area. The second level includes a specialised training at heights facility.

Keeping with the high-standards of the Brunswick Training Centre, the Geelong Campus responds to Green Star standards featuring hydronic heating and cooling coils set into the concrete slab for heating and cooling, in addition to other water and energy efficient systems.

A key focus of the building was to create multipurpose training spaces that are flexible enough to deliver a range of specialised training, while also adhering to sustainable principles.

From water reuse methods and installing water efficient products to solar water heating and embracing new technologies, PICAC Geelong provides innovative training facilities for plumbers in the north and western regions to develop world class skills they need for the jobs of the future.

Photography: Rachael Dere Photography 

PICAC Brunswick Campus

The Plumbing Industry Climate Action Centre (PICAC) is a world first facility that provides practising plumbers with the latest environmentally sustainable technological training solutions.

The 5 Star Green Star training facility incorporates a range of energy and water efficient systems including co-generation unit, air handling units, dry cooler, solar storage tanks, chilled beams and absorption chillers all controlled and incorporated into a unique Building Management System (BMS) to create an automated energy efficient building. Water saving and recycling technologies are also an important aspect of the building.

The building provides a training facility for the plumbing trades and also illustrates to the building industry, from consultants to the public, how sustainable technologies can be incorporated into all buildings.

In 2014 FMSA designed new PICAC Training Rooms to expand the scope of training offered by PICAC to professionals and students in the plumbing industry.

Positioned above the main ‘workshop’ style training space, the new training room takes the form of an elevated ‘pod’ in the double height space.

Accessed from the level 1 gangway, the ‘pod’ contains a flexible learning space divisible by a collapsible wall. Each space is equipped with supporting technology including projectors and portable boards, allowing the space to function in a number of configurations.

Photographer: Latreille Architectural Photography

Southern Peninsula Trade Training Centre

The Southern Peninsula Trade Training Centre (SPTTC) is a new training facility with industry standard equipment to accommodate vocational certificate training courses on behalf of a cluster of 6 secondary schools in Mornington Peninsula area.

The new facility, located at the Chisholm Institute of TAFE Mornington Peninsula Campus, includes specialised workshops for carpentry, electronics engineering, technician’s workshops, multi trade outdoor area and storage, two general purpose classrooms, allied health skills simulation labs, office and staff room, student lounge and ancillary facilities.


Photographer: Latreille Architectural Photography

Wesley College Visual Arts and Design Precinct

Located in the heritage listed former Royal Victorian Institute of the Blind, the new Wesley College Visual Arts and Design Precinct provides state-of-the-art learning spaces for Middle and Senior School students including specialised art, photography, 3D printing and sculpture studios; multi-purpose classrooms, library and an exhibition foyer.

FMSA’s design sensitively restores the original heritage features of the historic building which was originally constructed in 1866, while integrating contemporary technology and materials to form an engaging educational environment. The heavy bluestone of the exterior is balanced using a curated colour and natural material palette that introduces a modern lightness to the spaces.

As Lead Consultant, FMSA worked closely with the College Visual Arts Department, consultant team and contractors to deliver a renewed facility that breathes life into the historic building and creates flexible and specialist spaces for students to craft their artistic skills.

CGS Sporting Hub Shelter

Caulfield Grammar School Sporting Hub Redevelopment

FMSA was engaged by Caulfield Grammar School as Architectural-Lead Consultant for the Sporting Hub Redevelopment project at the Wheelers Hill campus.

As a result of the project, the existing aging sporting changerooms were refurbished and extended to create a sporting hub that supported gender inclusive use, support and storage facilities. The new sporting hub includes 8 change rooms, a first aid and umpires room, storage and kiosk. Additionally, FMSA designed an open shelter structure for teams and spectators to use during games and training.

Diamond Creek East Primary School modernisation

In 2018 FMSA was engaged by the VSBA to deliver design and documentation services for modernisation works at the Diamond Creek East Primary School. Working closely with the VSBA and School stakeholders, FMSA has developed the design for a new Administration, and Art and Science Building, and alterations to the existing Multipurpose Building.

The spatial and architectural responses are informed by the School’s focus on mental and physical wellbeing, and are intended to provide flexible and vibrant learning spaces to support the learning outcomes of students.

FMSA continues to work with the VSBA and the School to progress towards the completion of tender documentation mid 2020.