PICAC NW Roundtable

Insight: PICAC Narre Warren Roundtable: The importance of Net Zero Energy design in a post-COVID world

The Plumbing Industry Climate Action Centre’s (PICAC) Narre Warren campus opened in October 2019 and serves as a centre of excellence in best practice training for the plumbing industry. Now in a 12-month monitoring period, it is anticipated that PICAC will prove its status as Victoria’s first Net Zero Energy training facility in March 2021. Current figures look promising.

On July 8, 2020, as Victoria entered the state’s second spike of the Covid-19 pandemic, the lead consultant team and client behind this landmark $30 million project met via videoconference for a recorded roundtable discussion. Key participants from PICAC, FMSA Architecture, Norman Disney & Young, and Hutchinson Builders examined learnings from this key infrastructure project, and how built environment professionals might help governments and industry to chart a course for the difficult years ahead.

PICAC Narre Warren is the first building in Australia to integrate foundation screw piling with geothermal exchange to manage its heating and cooling requirements. These foundations include 192 13-metre deep energy piles, and 28 geothermal bores drilled to a depth of one hundred metres to facilitate the heat exchange. A rooftop solar PV array generates up to 275Kw of electricity for the building on this 2.5Ha site. The project received $500K in support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

As architects for the project, we commissioned this roundtable interview. Ahead of the 2020 Sustainability Awards, at which PICAC Narre Warren is nominated in the Education & Research category, we share the Roundtable discussion to provide further insight to the project.

The full video can be below, or here: https://vimeo.com/439149330

 

Roundtable participants:

Host: Jo McErvale, Word to the Wise www.wordtothewise.com.au

Shayne Le Combre, CEO, PICAC www.picac.edu.au

Professor Tony Arnel, Global Director Sustainability, Norman Disney & Young http://www.ndy.com/

Peter Sandow, Principal, FMSA Architecture www.fmsa.com.au

Bernie Nolan, Team Leader, Hutchinson Builders https://www.hutchinsonbuilders.com.au/

Marcel Van Vliet, Construction Manager, Hutchinson Builders https://www.hutchinsonbuilders.com.au/


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.


Project Update: Reservoir Police Station

Work continues on site at the new Reservoir Police Station. The fast tracked program has seen the works move ahead towards completion in June 2020.

Captured by builder McCorkell Construction, the feature screening has been installed on the new state of the art police station. The screens featuring work by a local indigenous artist serve the dual purpose of security screening and visual identity.


First look at Diamond Creek East Primary School

We are excited to share a first look at FMSA’s work with the VSBA to develop solutions for moderinsation works at Diamond Creek East Primary School. Currently in design development, the project will deliver an administration building featuring staff work areas, consulting rooms and reception, as well as art and science spaces.


Good design is adaptive

Good design is adaptive. FMSA’s COVID 19 response

These are unprecedented times, but we want to assure our clients, suppliers and consultants that we are doing our part to protect our communities and the business we manage.

As we do with all of our projects, we are assessing risk during the Coronavirus pandemic and reviewing protocols daily. Planning for and adapting to change is best practice in architecture, and we will continue to monitor official government advice and assess and respond to our team’s unique needs to ensure our work can continue safely.

No industry is immune to the impacts of the Coronavirus, but our team is well prepared for the changes that will be required over the coming days and weeks. Currently our office remains open, but we have begun to implement a series of changes to how we work. 

 

LIMITS TO TRAVEL AND FACE-TO-FACE MEETINGS

Where practicable, we will be limiting travel and will participate in all meetings virtually. This will mean fewer site visits and more virtual conferencing.

All visits to our offices and presentations from our supplier networks have been suspended to limit unnecessary exposure. In place of face-to-face meetings, we will maintain communications virtually via platforms including Join.Me, and the usual email and phone channels. We use all of these platforms daily in our practice, and they will continue to support us in our collaborations with consultants, clients and community throughout this period, whether from the office or at home.

 

REMOTE WORKING PROTOCOLS

We have implemented a remote working plan to support our staff to continue their work off-site as needed.

As at 18 March, almost one quarter of our team has commenced working remotely and we are testing new protocols that will help to coordinate efforts and ensure continuity of service delivery on our busy portfolio of projects.

 

HYGIENE AND DISTANCING MEASURES Those who show signs of being unwell will be asked to work from home or rest as required.Until health department directives change, we are taking no unnecessary risks and are practising social distancing as a precaution within our office. Our staff members are also practising vigilant hand hygiene and will self-isolate should they suspect they are unwell.

There is much we do not know about this pandemic, but what we do know is that this level of disruption will eventually end. Now, more than ever, we see thoughtful and adaptable design as crucial to the advancement of healthy and resilient communities. We continue to deliver our rigorous and reliable services with this long view in mind and will keep you informed about any major changes as the situation progresses.

Stay informed and stay well.

FMSA Architecture


Completed: PICAC Narre Warren

Developed by PICAC in partnership with international research and certification organisation IAPMO, the new $30m PICAC Narre Warren campus is targeting to be Victoria’s first Net Zero Energy (NZE) certified education facility. A comprehensive training and research facility dedicated to training the plumbing industry, PICAC Narre Warren will generate all energy required to support the operation of the building on site through the incorporation of several renewable energy technologies.

Learn more about this innovative project and the landmark use of geothermal energy in the education environment here.


Pink Ribbon Morning Tea

Supporting the Pink Ribbon Morning Tea

Recently the FMSA team hosted a morning tea to support the Cancer Council Victoria Pink Ribbon campaign. The Pink Ribbon campaign raises awareness about breast and gynaecological cancers, as well as much needed funds for prevention programs, support services and vital cancer research.

This year the team hit their kitchens to whip up a spread of delicious savoury and sweet treats. The whole team gathered to support the cause, and learn more about the campaign. Thanks to the generosity (and excellent baking skills) of the FMSA team for supporting the cause.