Post-Covid Series 3

Posted on Sep 17, 2021

Architecture hacks: Melbourne 2030


Post-covid, we’re facing a radical shift in how we inhabit cities. We believe that architecture has a critical role to play in this evolution. Through a series of design provocations, our studio is exploring the role of architecture in revitalising now-dormant spaces.


Our first post-covid series explores how to regenerate the thousands of empty parking spaces across the Melbourne CBD, while our second series resurrects the iconic commercial towers of Collins Place into a vibrant self-sustaining residential hub.


In this series we reimagine Victoria’s historic Point Nepean Quarantine Station as a ready-made template to guide our current-day needs at the new quarantine site at Avalon Airport. Established in 1852, the station once provided Victoria defence against introduced maladies, and was used to separate, process, and quarantine travellers and livestock sailing in from Europe.


The station was equipped with all the necessities of a successful quarantine facility, including a secluded location, access to fresh air and sanitisation facilities. Key quarantine methods adopted during past pandemics such as the Spanish Flu included:


   -a managed arrival and screening process

   -the removal of infected passengers off ships immediately on arrival

   -naturally ventilated, openable windows to access fresh air

   -occupants isolated in individual rooms

   -staff also isolated on the station to prevent infections in the wider community

   -and no distributed services linking spaces, preventing direct occupant to occupant contamination.


So why design, test, and build a new quarantine facility when we can repurpose an existing facility within Avalon Airport?


In our design exploration, extra measures are proposed to ensure the facility is up to present-day quarantine requirements, including clear zone separation with an exclusion area monitored by a mounted division, new productive green space around the exclusion zone, and extra sanitization stations.


Travellers are funnelled in from (air)ships, processed and sanitised, and finally able to quarantine in separate quarters before continuing on their journey into Australia.



Yarra Ranges Civic Centre Redevelopment construction update

Posted on Sep 10, 2021

Currently in the final stages of construction, we look forward to seeing the completion of the Yarra Ranges Civic Centre Redevelopment in early 2022.


This major project involves extensive refurbishment and extension to the council’s Anderson Street offices into a flexible multi-purpose centre. Located within Lilydale’s main street, our design enhances underutilised public space to create a dynamic new civic hub.


Working closely with Ziebell Landscape Architecture (ZLA), and consultation with stakeholders, working and community groups, we have created a welcoming and accessible design influenced by the Yarra Ranges natural bushland setting. Designed to meet high-level sustainability targets, the project involves comprehensive upgrades to outdated services and infrastructure, and includes new Activity Based Working for staff.


The civic centre is one of several projects we’re working on that involves a strong indigenous focus. As one of the first Australian councils to adopt approaches towards reconciliation, Yarra Ranges Council is committed to raising awareness of indigenous issues, culture and history. From the outset, we engaged with Yarra Ranges Council Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC) to ensure the new civic centre reflects council’s longstanding connection to its indigenous Wurundjeri heritage.


Through ongoing consultation with the IAC, key indigenous aspects informed the design, including the acknowledgment to country sign at the entry, a curated indigenous art installation, rooms named after indigenous community leaders, and indigenous signage throughout. The building’s exterior has also been shaped through our dialogue with IAC.


Click the video below for the latest site update from Johns Lyng Commercial Builders.


Nearing completion, the latest works on site include internal wall construction and plastering, along with window installation, roofing, stormwater and front entrance works to the exterior.



Celebrating 21 years: RMIT University Textile Facility

Posted on Sep 1, 2021

Completed in 2000, RMIT Building 513, Textiles, Clothing, Leather & Footwear Facility remains one of the most unique educational buildings in Australia. As the country’s first large scale institutional or commercial project to feature an all-timber facade, the design responds to RMIT’s commitment to enrich its built environment through innovative architecture.


The project’s pioneering use of timber sparked a resurgence in timber use on non- commercial buildings nationally. The choice of timber was inspired by H2o Director Tim Hurburgh’s desire to use the sustainable properties of timber in a major building. This choice was further informed by Tim’s experience working with timber structures in Germany during the 90s, and from his Tasmanian hometown, where surviving early nineteenth century hardwood timber buildings are commonplace. The building’s facade features an interlocking grid- patterned timber rain screen over a Tyvek weather- proof membrane. Its appearance, inspired by the weaving crafts taught and produced within, changing with varying light conditions. within, changing with varying light conditions. The facade’s rain screen was also the first, and largest, to be built in Australia at the time.


A standout feature of the 5,200sqm, three-storey facility is its thermal chimney, unique at the time. Designed to achieve passive solar temperature control, the building is only partially air conditioned. Working closely with the builder, project engineers, the Timber Promotion Council, and leading northern European researchers in timber facade systems, H2o developed an environmentally responsive method of construction to regulate internal temperature. The innovative “double skin” system aided by the upward air movement in summer of the thermal chimney limits heat transfer to the building interior. The “chimney” can be closed off in winter and opened in summer to facilitate summer cooling.


Twenty-one years on, the facility stands as one of the most influential education buildings of its time. True to the original brief, it exemplifies RMIT’s commitment to innovation and research, befitting its reputation as the global leader in fashion and textiles education.


Unfinished precast concrete panelling is used on the ground floor exterior with western red cedar cladding to the rest of the building. Photo by H2o Architects.



Celebrating National Science Week

Posted on Aug 20, 2021

August marks National Science Week, Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology. Featuring over 1000 events, science week includes in-person and online events, virtual tours, and DIY science from universities, schools, research institutions, libraries, museums and science centres across Australia.


As national specialists in the design of science, greenhouse, specialist laboratory and storage facilities, we’ve completed more than 50 projects for the science, education and technology sectors over the past 21 years.


As architects and designers, we play an important role in creating spaces that support next-generation research and education. Notable projects include the Australian Grains Genebank, one of the most important genetic banks in Australia, The University of Adelaide Plant Accelerator, which is Australia’s largest research greenhouse and the Factory of the Future at Swinburne University, an important engineering hub for education and research into digital manufacturing processes. ⁠


Recent projects include the high-tech New Science Research Facility for the University of Technology Sydney, a state-of-the-art research facility offering world-class specialist labs, and the new purpose-built research and education Biodiversity Facility currently under construction for Flinders University in Adelaide.

Celebrating innovation in science and engineering during Australia’s National Science Week.



Post-Covid Series 2

Posted on Aug 13, 2021


Architecture hacks: Melbourne 2030

Post-covid, we’re facing a radical shift in how we inhabit cities. We believe that architecture has a critical role to play in this evolution. Through a series of design provocations, our studio is exploring the role of architecture in revitalising the places we call home.


Following our first post-covid series, which explores how to regenerate the thousands of now-dormant parking spaces across the Melbourne CBD, our second series resurrects the iconic commercial towers of Collins Place into a vibrant self-sustaining residential hub.



Our concept creates an interconnected vertical village, which utilises the existing atrium spaceframes as a superstructure to support a series of new pods. Acting as a web between the two towers, the pods offer infinite possibilities for work, rest and play. Offering residents both private and communal outdoor spaces, the pods are flexible and adaptable to suit changing needs.



Nearing completion: Flinders University Biodiversity Facility

Posted on Jul 30, 2021

Part of Flinders University’s upgraded science precinct, the new Biodiversity Facility supports the university’s reputation for world-class research and teaching. Located at the College of Science and Engineering at the university’s Bedford Park campus in Adelaide, the facility will be a state-of-the-art, purpose built research and education biodiversity facility.


Designed in association with Phillips/Pilkington Architects, the 505sqm facility incorporates bespoke environmental conditions with a focus on humidity, temperature and light control. The facility also includes landscaped outdoor areas designed to be in-keeping with its bushland surrounds and sympathetic to the landscape.


With environmental issues at the forefront of global debate, the new Biodiversity Facility will play a vital role in supporting the teaching and learning of conservation and biodiversity. Currently under construction by Sarah Constructions, the facility is due for completion towards the end of 2021.


As national specialists in the design of science, greenhouse and storage facilities, the new Biodiversity Facility follows the recent completion of our high-tech New Science Research Facility for the University of Technology Sydney. H2o Architects also has an impressive track record of projects in South Australia, which includes a number of collaborations with Phillips/Pilkington Architects, such as the University of Adelaide Plant Accelerator.


The Biodiversity Facility will support contemporary teaching and research across biodiversity, nature conservation and education.



Fostering arts education: Madeleine Centre for Music and the Performing Arts

Posted on Jul 23, 2021

One of our favourite projects, the Madeleine Centre for the Performing Arts provides flexible indoor and outdoor performance and learning spaces for Genazzano FCJ College in Kew, Melbourne. As specialists in education design, H2o Architects focus on creating spaces that both enhance the learning experience for students and offer opportunities for community-building.


As one of Australia’s oldest Catholic schools for girls, the new professional-level performing arts centre marked a significant development for the college, and importantly, reinforced the school’s profile as leaders in music and performing arts education. The centre features both indoor and outdoor spaces, including a 450-seat auditorium, orchestra pit, music rooms, multi-purpose foyer spaces and gallery, and outdoor courtyards.


Contemporary in appearance, yet formal in its planning, the design provides a deliberately simple counterpoint to the heritage neo-gothic building opposite. To the north, a light-filled courtyard becomes part of the music school, with flexible indoor spaces opening up to the outdoors in summer and taking advantage of the low sun in winter.


Following the completion of Genazzano’s performing arts centre, we designed the school’s new Early Learning Centre. Over the past decade, H2o Architects has delivered high quality, award-winning education projects across Australia, from early learning and primary, through to secondary, TAFE and university. Our current education projects include The Friends’ School redevelopment in Hobart, the soon-to-be completed Flinders University Biodiversity Facility in South Australia, and the new McKinnon Secondary School gymnasium.


The Madeleine Centre for Music and the Performing Arts, named after the foundress of the Sisters FCJ, Marie Madeleine d’Houet. Photo by Trevor Mein.




Revisit: Belgrave Community Hub

Posted on Jul 21, 2021

As our current Civic Centre redevelopment for Yarra Ranges Council nears completion, we’re revisiting a previous project with council, the Belgrave Community & Multipurpose Hub.


Projects that positively impact local community are important to H2o Architects, and the new hub provides much-needed new amenity and improved access to services for locals. Completed in 2017, the facility brings together over ten community service groups, turning a previously under-utilised site into a new hub for allied community health and emergency support services.


The design and materials take inspiration from both local architecture and flora fauna, as well as the surrounding Dandenong Ranges. Silvertop ash cladding references the weatherboards of the local vernacular, while the multipurpose rooms feature a split brick clad form that echoes the handcrafted origins of the town. An undulating roof geometry introduces a gabled profile to the timber envelopes, referencing the hills of the Dandenong’s and the peaked forms of the heritage cottages of Belgrave.


We’re thrilled to be working again with the team at Yarra Ranges Council on their new civic centre. Currently in the final stages of construction, the project involves extensive refurbishment and extension to council’s Anderson Street offices into a flexible multi-purpose centre. Located within Lilydale’s main street, our design enhances underutilised public space to create a dynamic new civic hub.


The two-storey Belgrave Community Hub features offices, multi-purpose rooms, meeting rooms, counselling rooms, reception and associated amenities, a loading bay and new public plaza. Photo by Rhiannon Slatter.


Post-Covid Series

Posted on Jul 2, 2021

Architecture hacks: Melbourne 2030
Post-covid, we’re facing a radical shift in how we inhabit cities. With remote working the new normal, the traditional model of CBD as city centre is under dispute. Will we return to business as usual over time or live and work hyper locally?


We believe that architecture has a critical role to play in this evolution. Through a series of design provocations, our studio is exploring the role of architecture in revitalising the places we call home.

Our first prototype examines how to regenerate the thousands of now-dormant parking spaces across the CBD. We’ve reimagined these surplus environments as a series of interconnected modular building pods, interchangeable according to function, demand and regulatory frameworks.


Empty office buildings and hotels could be transformed into cultural hubs, supporting new retail and hospitality opportunities and urban farms. New planting would clean the air and feed an expanding CBD population, in this renewed thriving metropolis.






Under construction: The Friends’ School Redevelopment

Posted on Jun 29, 2021

H2o architects is excited to see the new Sports Centre underway at The Friends’ School’s Commercial Road campus in North Hobart. This is the first built project to emerge following the initial masterplan undertaken in 2016 by H2o with Bence Mulcahy for the school’s Commercial Road and Argyle Street campuses.

Founded in 1887, The Friends’ School is the first co-educational private school in Australia and with 1300 students, it’s also the largest Quaker school in the world. Also designed by H2o architects with Bence Mulcahy, the cutting-edge sports facility will be at the centre of a new recreational hub, acting as an interconnected web joining previously disparate buildings and spaces across a number of levels.

Completion of the Sports Centre will also pave the way for the innovative second stage of the redevelopment, the conversion of the existing WN Oats Sports Hall into a two-level learning centre at the heart of the campus.

The proposed refit of the existing sports hall is a pioneering approach not previously seen in education design in Australia. While the generous dimensions of a standard school gym make it well-suited for two storey regeneration, such facilities are not usually reimagined for new purposes.

Currently under construction by Fairbrother builders, the new Sport Centre is due to open in 2022.

The School’s ideals of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality and Stewardship are central to the design, with the new Sports Centre helping to build and strengthen the school community while supporting students’ long-term health and wellbeing.