Construction commenced: The Friends’ School Redevelopment Stage 2

Posted on May 20, 2022

With the first stage nearing completion, H2o Architects is excited to see the second stage of our development for The Friends’ School in Hobart underway.


Designed by H2o Architects with Bence Mulcahy, Stage 2 includes the conversion of the existing WN Oats Sports Hall into a two-level learning centre at the heart of the campus.


The multi-stage development follows the initial masterplan undertaken in 2016 by H2o with Bence Mulcahy for the school’s Commercial Road and Argyle Street campuses.


Almost complete, the first stage sits at the centre of a new recreational hub, and acts as an interconnected web joining previously disparate buildings and spaces across a number of levels.


Currently under construction by Fairbrother builders, Stage 2 is due for completion by the start of the 2023 school year.

Pictured: Stage 2 of the Friends’ School redevelopment. Founded in 1887, the school is the first co-educational private school in Australia, and with 1300 students, it’s also the largest Quaker school in the world. Render by CUUB Studio.

New cutting-edge labs for La Trobe University

Posted on May 16, 2022

Our latest project for La Trobe enhances the university’s reputation for world-class rural health education, providing new nursing labs, together with wet labs for biomedical science teaching and research.


Announced this week, the university has received Federal Government funding towards the delivery of state-of-the-art labs for health and science students in Mildura. The new facilities will help address the increasing demand for local nursing and healthcare professionals, and will allow the university to introduce a new Bachelor of Biomedical Science from 2024.


The labs are designed to provide nursing students with an environment that closely resembles a hospital or other clinical setting, “nursing students will have the opportunity to practice the skills and techniques they will need in a real-world situation, while being safely supported by skilled teaching staff”, Dean of La Trobe Rural Health School Professor Jane Mills.


Our studio has delivered more than 50 projects for the science, education and technology sectors, including the recently completed Science Research Facility at UTS and the new Flinders University Biodiversity Facility. Construction of La Trobe’s new facilities is due to begin later this year.


New cutting-edge labs in Mildura: the facility will help bring the university closer to realising their ambition to establish a new rural medical training pathway in the Mallee region.


Under construction in 2022

Posted on May 6, 2022

Our studio has several exciting projects nearing completion, including the first stage of The Friends’ School Redevelopment in Hobart and the major redevelopment of the Yarra Ranges Civic Centre in Lilydale. Also currently under construction for HousingFirst, are the Little Grey St and Halycon Brighton affordable housing developments.


Completion of The Friends’ School’s new Sports Centre will 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. Also in Tasmania, we’re pleased to be revisiting the historic Hobart Real Tennis Club for several upgrades to their existing playing and club facilities.


In the final stages of construction is our extensive refurbishment and extension of the Yarra Ranges Council 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.


In St Kilda, the Little Grey Street development is well underway.


The project transforms an existing rooming house into fully self-contained units, creating suitable long-term accommodation for women over 55 years old at risk of homelessness. Our design allows for ageing-in-place, as well as communal indoor and outdoor spaces to encourage socialisation and interaction. Naturally ventilated without air conditioning, the design also achieves 100% adaptive reuse of the existing base building.


Also currently under construction is our latest project for Swinburne University, a new multi-use cafe at the Hawthorn campus featuring floor to ceiling glazing, recycled timber floors and ceiling, and a fully operational commercial kitchen.


Nearing completion: The new Sports Centre for The Friends’ School in Hobart, designed by H2o Architects with Bence Mulcahy.


On the drawing board: Faraday Street townhouses

Posted on Apr 29, 2022

Our studio is busy working on the design for an exciting new warehouse-inspired townhouse development in Faraday Street, Carlton.


Nestled within the brick shell of an old motor garage, the project features three townhouses, with a basement, ground and first-floor level that sits above the existing garage.


Taking inspiration from rusty corrugated iron, the paired-back external materials palette features Spanish ceramic tiles, steel-framed glazing and off-form concrete. Featuring existing brickwork and an impressive full height ventilated glazed void through all levels, the interiors are designed with three shell and core spaces to accommodate bespoke fitouts for the new owners.


As part of our team for this project, we’re thrilled to once again be working with builders Jointly and the award-winning Hobart-based structural engineers Gandy & Roberts, who helped deliver the high-profile McKinnon Secondary College Gymnasium.


Permits approved: the Faraday Street townhouses development. Set back from the street within an 8m height limit, the project also includes rooftop solar and electric vehicle charging stations.


Hobart ‘Grey’ Besser Blocks

Posted on Apr 8, 2022

Written by H2o Director Tim Hurburgh, with Nicholas Heyward, historian and current chair of the National Trust of Tasmania, Tim delves into a unique period of Australian architecture in Hobart in the 1960s and early 1970s.


Tim won a 1966 Besser display house competition, which inspired his own early use of besser blocks and, later, this article. Tim’s exploration of Hobart’s besser blocks was also published recently in Architecture and Design.


In May 2021, the 2021 AIA (Tasmanian Chapter) Enduring Architecture award was presented to Brian Walch of Hartley Wilson Oldmeadow Eastman Walch Architects, for the Wilson Robson Building in Liverpool Street Hobart. The award was a milestone in the recognition of a unique period of Australian architecture.


During this time there was a mini explosion in the erection of high-quality buildings of all types and scales in concrete block – mostly standard greys. These were made locally by Besser Vibrapac Masonry at its Lutana factory established in the early 1950s on the edge of the city.


Click here to read the full article.



Pictured: The iconic Wilson Robson Building by Brian Walch, completed in 1973. The building can be interpreted as representing both the high point but also the end of an exuberant era of Tasmanian architecture, in Hobart in particular, during the 1960s and early 1970s. Photo by Tim Hurburgh.


Flinders University Biodiversity Facility

Posted on Mar 25, 2022

Designed in association with Phillips/Pilkington Architects, our new Biodiversity Facility for Flinders University is now complete and open for business. Located at the College of Science and Engineering at the Bedford Park campus of Flinders University in Adelaide, the purpose-built facility supports contemporary teaching and research across biodiversity, nature conservation and education.


With environmental issues at the forefront of global debate, the new Biodiversity Facility plays a vital role in supporting the teaching and learning of conservation and biodiversity. Together with Phillips/Pilkington Architects, we’ve taken the opportunity to highlight the university’s valuable work, and have entered the facility into this year’s South Australian Architecture Awards. Entered into both the Education and Interior Design categories, we look forward to the announcement of the award winners later this year in mid-June.


Designed with a low carbon footprint and reduced energy inputs, the facility incorporates bespoke environmental conditions with a focus on humidity, temperature and light control. The facility also includes landscaped outdoor areas designed to blend with its bushland surrounds in sympathy with the local landscape.


Enhancing the sense of enclosure, a dark colour palette is used as a background for vibrant highlights throughout. Externally, the facility appears rugged, surrounded in earthy tones that ground the new building to its location. Internally, entryways and delivery portals are accentuated with bold colours including turquoise, orange and yellow, taking inspiration from the fish and lizards accommodated in the facility.



Part of Flinders University’s upgraded science precinct, the new Biodiversity Facility supports the university’s reputation for world-class research and teaching. Photo by David Sievers.


Back on campus at Swinburne University

Posted on Mar 18, 2022

Last week marked the official start of classes for 2022, and the return for many students and staff to on-campus learning for the first time in two years. We are also back onsite at Swinburne University, and thrilled to see the campus, and our many projects, come back to life.


As national specialists in education design, we play an important role in creating spaces that support next-generation research and innovation. Over the past fifteen years, we’ve collaborated with Swinburne on several major projects, including the award-winning Advanced Technology Centre (ATC) in Hawthorn.


A flagship development for the university, the ATC is the first education building in Australia receive a 5-Star Green Star Rating from the Green Building Council of Australia. As a world-leading engineering-focused facility for education and research, the multi-level building is designed to both showcase and connect Swinburne to the public.


A bold response to its challenging urban setting, the pioneering design features precast panels dotted with circular openings, encouraging exploration and connection. The highly recognisable ‘polka dot’ façade has become synonymous with Swinburne, featuring in branding and on signage throughout campus.


Other key projects for Swinburne include the Factory of the Future, an important engineering hub for education and research into digital manufacturing processes, the Australian-first multidisciplinary innovation hub, Design Factory Melbourne (DFM), and the refurbished Architecture, Industrial & Interior Design faculty’s workshop.


Our latest project to enhance the amenity of the Hawthorn campus is currently under construction and includes a new café with floor to ceiling glazing, recycled timber floors and ceiling, and a fully operational commercial kitchen.



A global leader in educational and research, the iconic Advanced Technology Centre (ATC) by H2o, celebrated in this fantastic animation by Swinburne.


Montrose Gymnasium featured in Swisspearl Architecture

Posted on Mar 4, 2022

Thank you to Swisspearl for featuring our Montrose Primary School Gymnasium project in the latest issue of the international Swisspearl Architecture magazine.


We’re thrilled to see our work featured in this international magazine, which showcases projects from the USA, Ireland, Mongolia, Sweden, Eastern Europe and Canada, including projects by Perkins & Will and HOK.


Our design for this much-loved primary school in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges creates an exceptional new facility, featuring a full competition grade basketball court with spectator seating, a fork-to-fork kitchen garden program, unisex facilities and flexible learning environments. ⁠


Following the success of the new gym, we’re pleased to once again be working with the school, the Victorian School Building Authority (VSBA) and wider Montrose community on a campus-wide masterplan to cater for future growth


With the recent purchase of new land and a number of the school’s buildings no longer fit-for-purpose, our proposed masterplan seeks to maximise contemporary learning models to create a future-proofed, sustainable and connected campus.



Finalist, 2021 Victorian School Design Awards, Best School Project (Below $5M), Montrose Primary School Gymnasium features in issue #30 of Swisspearl Architecture magazine.


McKinnon Secondary College Gymnasium

Posted on Feb 25, 2022

Completed last month, our contemporary, light-filled gymnasium for McKinnon Secondary College. Our brief was to create a standalone competition-grade facility on a green fields site intimately connected into the campus.


Partly crowd-funded by the school community through the purchase of inscribed bricks, the new gymnasium is the third major project H2o Architects has completed for the school. The new facility features basketball, volleyball and netball timber courts, change rooms, a kiosk, storage, car parking and office facilities to both the school and public as a ‘gym for hire’.


Our design response is a spacious, off white and simple pitched roof classical form with slender exposed structural steel work creating a functional and elegant, light-filled interior.


A feature of the naturally finished plywood and reconstituted woodwool interiors is the plywood dado accented by triangular ‘flags’ in school colours inspired by naval semaphores, which spell out the words GO MCKINNON on the west and south walls.


We’re thrilled to have also entered the McKinnon Secondary College Gymnasium into this year’s Victorian Architecture Awards. A special thank you to all the staff and students at McKinnon Secondary College, Principal Pitsa Binnon and Vice Principal Michael Kan, and the design and construction team: Gandy & Roberts Consulting Engineers, Fryda Dorne & Associates, Adams Consulting Engineers, and the builders, Jointly. At H2o, thank you Tim, Vieri and Teresa.


Positioned at the northern end of the campus as an object in the landscape, the gymnasium creates an important visual and functional connection with the main campus, forming a backdrop to outdoor sport activities and learning. Photo by John Gollings.


Tim Hurburgh appointed 2022 Tasmanian Architecture Awards Jury Chair

Posted on Feb 18, 2022

H2o Architects Director Tim Hurburgh is honoured to be appointed jury member and chair for this year’s Tasmanian Architecture Awards.


Tim grew up in Hobart opposite Moorilla (now MONA) graduating from Hobart Technical College in 1966. After several years working abroad he returned to Australia, joining Bates Smart, becoming a director in 1981 and chairperson through the 1990s. Tim’s major projects at Bates Smart were the Australian Embassy Berlin, director for the design stages of Federation Square, Foxtel Headquarters Sydney and Royal Children’s Hospital.


Tim formed H2o with Mark O’Dwyer in 2000. H2o’s design philosophy for sustainable, situational modernism has been internationally awarded and includes SES headquarters Southbank, Swinburne University ATC, and Avondale Heights Library. Inspired by his Tasmanian heritage, including the Derwent Valley’s fabled Oast Houses, Tim pioneered the use of timber for large scale institutional structures in Australia at RMIT – RMIT Textiles, Deakin University – Central Precinct and ICBB, the Australian Grains Gene bank in Horsham, and at Castlemaine Primary School.


Tim is joined by fellow jury members Ricky Adams (Terroir), Dik Jarman (Circa Morris-Nunn Chua Architects), Jason Licht (Licht Architecture) and guest juror Judith Abell. Over 30 projects have been entered into this year’s awards, with architects presenting their projects to the jury on Saturday 26 February. Presentations will also be available via zoom. Visit the Tasmania Chapter website for further details.


This year, we’re proud to also have our work entered into both the Victorian and South Australian Chapter Architecture Awards, including the McKinnon Secondary College Gymnasium and the Flinders University Biodiversity Facility. We look forward to presenting our projects to the respective juries in the coming weeks.


Pictured: H2o Director and Co-founder, Tim Hurburgh.