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.

Justice Sector Profile

Through our role as Principal Consultant on several Department of Justice and Victoria Police projects, the FMSA’s project team has developed an in depth understanding of the key issues surrounding justice services and correctional facility planning and design.

FMSA has worked closely with the Victorian Department of Justice, Corrections Victoria and Victoria Police over the past 17 years to assist in the implementation of its strategic goals to reform the justice system. Projects include:

  • Latrobe Valley Law Courts & Police Complex, Morwell  $ 34 million
  • Moorabbin Law Courts, Highett  $ 28.2 million
  • Court Services Victoria Asset and Security Program – 16 renovation and additions projects across regional and metro courts
  • William Cooper Justice Centre Preoccupation Review (2012)
  • Prison Accommodation Masterplan – 10 year strategic framework & assessment of the 13 public prisons campuses & facilities
  • Victorian Public Prisons Expansion Options Review Report 2012
  • Karreenga Correctional Centre $ 100 million – New 300 bed prison campus
  • Dame Phyllis Frost Centre Health and Wellbeing Precinct $27 million
  • Melbourne Assessment Prison Prisoner Reception Redevelopment $17.0 million
  • Dame Phyllis Frost Centre 168 bed and infrastructure expansion (current)
  • Langi Kal Kal Prison Expansion & Additions (Phase 1 – 4) $ 21 million – 54 bed expansion, administration expansion ( including new visits centre & industries)
  • Dhurringile Expansion & Additions $ 16 million (completed 2010) 54 bed expansion & a prisoner services building & training workshops
  • Tarrengower Expansion & Additions $ 4.8 million – 18 bed expansion, redevelopment & additions to administration building, visitation areas, recreation area, medical and procession facilities.
  • Barwon Prison Melaleuca Wing upgrade $ 6 million
  • Langi Kal Kal Prison Portable Prisoner Accommodation – 25 container accommodation units
  • Beechworth Correctional Centre Portable Prisoner Accommodation – 25 container accommodation units
  • Bendigo Police Station $ 17.4 million
  • Torquay Police Station $ 5.7 million
  • Mt Hotham Police Station $ 2.0 million
  • Benalla Police Station Masterplan (2014)
  • Victoria Police Centre of Learning for Family Violence $11.7m
  • Reservoir 24-hour Police Station (current)

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

CSV Security & Asset Program

In 2016 FMSA Architecture was engaged by Courts Services Victoria as Principal Consultant for the Asset & Security Redevelopment Program. The program focuses on the upgrade and expansion of 16 existing Victorian metropolitan and regional court complexes to ensure that the facilities meet the current CSV operational and security guidelines. The goal was to create a ‘safe and secure facility’ for all Courts staff and members of the public visiting the courts.

The Program was initiated to address the operational issues of the ageing assets which contributed to an inability to meet OHS requirements for staff, and security of all occupants in general, and in relation to new Family Violence objectives.

For many reasons Courthouses and registries are places of potential stress and conflict for users. Our design response responded to this issue in a consistent manner across all sites because of tailored consultation with CSV assets team and stakeholders at the individual sites. The construction and delivery of the upgrades will occur in live environments with minimal disruption to ongoing service activities and ensuring safety to all users.

As Principal Consultants, our scope of services ranged from the development and documentation of architectural solutions through project phases – from feasibility to contract administration – in liaison with CSV and the CSV appointed Project Manager, Johnstaff.

The program delivery was packaged in 2 tranches over a two-year period in line with funding requirements. Project scope ranged from minor upgrades, to the reconfiguration of internal spaces and minor extensions, to major alterations and additions.

With works undertaken concurrently at 16 existing courts facilities in regional and metropolitan Melbourne, our Design Team was structured to ensure efficient and consistent design and delivery. Led by a common Project Director and Project Leader, the projects were divided among supporting Project Architects based on location, scope and tranche.

Moorabbin Justice Centre

The Moorabbin Justice Centre is a multi-purpose facility which includes Magistrates’ Court, Children’s Court, multipurpose courtrooms for Koori Court and VCAT hearings, community correctional services, sheriff’s office, police prosecutions and custody centre. 

The design defuses the traditional formality and stress associated with the delivery of justice through the layering of space – from forecourt to entry, enclosed courtrooms and transparent public spaces giving tangible and transparent access to justice, sending a message that justice is available to all. The subtle use of materials, colour and light contribute to a relaxed internal environment for what can be a stressful experience for many, including staff.

The building design adopts and extends a sustainable approach initiated by the clients’ environmental management systems with the result being the Justice Department’s most environmentally sustainable building on its completion. Many alternative environmental systems for a high performance building were adopted, delivering public spaces that operate without conventional air-conditioning.

South Eastern Development Award for most Outstanding Sustainable Building

Photographer: Mark Munro Photography

Latrobe Valley Justice Precinct

The Latrobe Valley Justice Precinct defines Morwell’s CBD and civic precinct, increasing Morwell’s status as a regional centre.  Located on the lands of the Gunaikurnai peoples, this architectural landmark for the Morwell community and Latrobe City Council presents significant growth and cohesion to the existing urban fabric.

Located on an irregular shaped site of 12,800sqm, this 7,380sqm complex includes the Police District Headquarters and 24 hour police station together with a multijurisdictional courthouse and judicial auxiliary building. The urban design solution was the key to the scheme winning an invited competition tender.

The complex required sensitivity for a small township streetscape, yet called for a commanding presence appropriate for important public buildings. Comprising three public buildings with different characteristics and separate address points, the plan integrates civic spaces and architecture.

A demanding brief requirement was to include a high degree of sustainability custom designed for each user group. Included are operable windows, automated louvres, direct and passive access to light and fresh air incorporated into a mechanically ventilated building with integrated thermal mass.

The complex provides a new focus within the urban landscape of the Latrobe Valley and a catalyst for the extension of urban pride.

Photographer: Mark Munro Photography

Bendigo Police Station

Bendigo Police Station provides Victoria Police and the Bendigo community with a strong contemporary image at the gateway to Bendigo. Located on the lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung peoples, on a prominent corner site on the main road into the city, the building addresses the street with a distinctive inclined glass double façade, presenting an accessible and transparent public image while maintaining 24-hour operational security and street surveillance. 

 Sustainable principles were integrated into the design, providing a low energy building with significant water catchment and storage for recycling. The steel-framed, sculptural, glass façades are an environmental device designed to reduce energy consumption. The central, full height atrium is equipped with mechanical louvers, which allow hot air in the roof space to escape via mechanical louvres that open under pressure.

Photographer: Mark Munro Photography

Mt Hotham Police Station

Mt Hotham Police Station is Australia’s highest altitude public building, operating in the most extreme weather conditions on the Australian mainland. The 255sqm building provides for operational policing and search and rescue functions for the alpine resort of Mt Hotham and surrounding country of the Gunaikurnai and Taungrung peoples.

Working within a tight budget and time frame, the project had to be designed, documented and built during the warmer months outside the ski season.

Due to the extreme climatic variations, selected external cladding materials are robust and include zinc cladding and Colorbond steel. The sculptural composition is evocative of the brutal landscape whilst the angled façade reduces the glazed areas to a minimum, reducing heat loss.

The building is designed to be extremely low maintenance with no need to touch the outside of the building for an estimated 20 years. The building features pedestrian and vehicular slab heating, roof heating to prevent excessive snow and ice build-up and self-cleaning glass to reduce maintenance costs. It can also operate for long periods without connection to mains power.


Photographer: Mark Munro Photography

Melbourne Children’s Court Foyer, Waiting Areas + Playground

As part of the CSV Asset & Security Redevelopment Program, FMSA was responsible for the redevelopment of several areas in the Melbourne Children’s Court including the waiting area, foyer and existing children’s services spaces including the playground.

Our approach in designing each of the children’s spaces was to create environment that was interactive, welcoming and comfortable for children.  With individual challenges and requirements for each space, the design outcomes are a result of a collaborative effort between FMSA and MCC.

From the foyer and waiting areas to the children’s spaces; a common palette of colours, textures and shapes were used to create spaces that are comforting and playful, whilst supporting the commercial and operational needs of the court environment. Acoustic panels and furniture placement were tools to address security and acoustic issues throughout.

The objective in redeveloping the outdoor courtyard playground was to reduce the institutional aesthetic to create a more engaging and inviting spaces. Keeping the existing statues and trees, the new Playground introduces colour and artificial grass to delineate circulation and seating spaces. New furniture with organic shapes, texture, bright colours and natural materials such as timber are incorporated to create an engaging play area. External blackboards outside the playroom provide additional passive play for the children and adults to use.

Our interior design team worked closely with Court Services Victoria, Children’s Court of Victoria and key stakeholders including the DHHS to deliver an innovative environment that responds to the needs and interests of children.