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.






Montrose Gymnasium featured in Architizer

Posted on Jun 4, 2021

An exceptional new facility for a much-loved school and its community, the Montrose Primary School Gymnasium has been featured in Architizer. Designed to respond to the character of the Dandenong foothills, not only does it provide a full competition grade basketball court with spectator seating, a fork-to-fork kitchen garden program, unisex facilities and flexible learning environments, but it also acts as a designated bushfire shelter.

“Our new gymnasium is an interactive learning environment for our school that stimulates a growing child’s mind and body. Our fully equipped gymnasium affords our students the opportunity to be highly active during physical education and sport lessons, while also discovering the importance of health and nutrition through the kitchen garden program in our new canteen’s kitchen. The gymnasium offers a platform for teachers to collaborate for professional learning and a place where all students and staff, as well as the wider community, can meet for a wide variety of events in state-of-the-art facilities,”
Glenn Storr, Assistant Principal, Montrose Primary School


Visit Architizer to read more about the Montrose Primary School Gymnasium.

The new building has been oriented to maximise north and south aspects and limit exposure to the east and west. Sizing and placement of windows balances the need for natural light, views, heat gain and heat loss. Sun protection to the north is provided by translucent double skin polycarbonate sheeting preventing direct sunlight and overheating. Photo by Trevor Mein.






Revisiting Australia’s largest research greenhouse

Posted on May 21, 2021

The University of Adelaide Plant Accelerator is Australia’s largest research greenhouse and plays a fundamental role in crop research and plant phenomics across the globe. Designed by H2o Architects in collaboration with Phillips Pilkington Architects, The Plant Accelerator (TPA) is located at the University of Adelaide’s renowned Waite Research Precinct, the largest agricultural research, education and commercialisation precinct in the Southern Hemisphere.

Designed over two levels, the 4,500 square metre facility includes an upper greenhouse level for plant growth with automated plant imaging stations, and a lower support area housing plant growth chambers, potting, germination and research laboratories, and administrative offices.

Housing Australia’s first automated high-throughput phenotyping system, TPA can process 160,000 plants a year via automated facilities for high-volume plant growth and analysis. Over a decade since commencing operations, TPA continues to be a world-leading infrastructure facility, attracting researchers from Australia and abroad.

The project was awarded the Keith Neighbour Award for Commercial Architecture by the South Australian chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects.

The Plant Accelerator provides vital infrastructure for crop research and plant breeding in Australia. Photo by David Sievers.






H2o Architects’ KA5 Building featured in Architecture & Design

Posted on May 14, 2021

Thank you to Architecture & Design for recently featuring our Deakin KA5 project, a completely new, contemporary workspace for the university’s Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment (SEBE).

Designed to infill an underutilised courtyard, we transformed three floors of Building KA to accommodate projected growth in staff and Higher Degree by Research (HDR) student numbers. Importantly, the project also shepherds in Deakin’s Workspace Principles, providing an effective, engaging, and efficient workspace that responds to the different ways people work.

Deakin KA5, along with the Montrose Primary School Gymnasium and the new high-tech Research Building for UTS have been entered into this year’s Australian Institute of Architecture Awards. Winners are to be announced in June.

Deakin KA5. A dramatic central spheroid light well, large glazed sawtooth roof ridges, and voluptuous ceiling valleys break up the rigidity of the interior and draw light deep into the floorplan and lower level. Photo by Kane Jarrod.






Projects in-progress

Posted on May 11, 2021

H2o Architects has several projects currently under construction, including the St Kilda Apartments and Little Grey St Apartments for HousingFirst.

Almost complete, the St Kilda Apartment development combines new and refurbished heritage buildings to create 50 secure units for at-risk mothers and babies. Also under construction and due for completion early next year, is the Little Grey Street Apartment project in St Kilda.

The Little Grey Street development will transform 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.

Other projects currently underway include the Yarra Ranges Civic Centre Redevelopment and a new gymnasium for McKinnon Secondary College.

St Kilda Apartments nearing completion: The design fosters a strong connection to the adjacent St Kilda Botanical Gardens and is designed to achieve a 4 Star Green Star Rating.






Celebrating the future of sustainable architecture

Posted on Apr 30, 2021

H2o Director Mark O’Dwyer was honoured to be selected as a juror for the Victorian Architecture Awards 2021 in the Sustainable Architecture category recently.

With renewed global attention on the critical importance of accelerating sustainable architecture and building practices, Mark and his fellow jurors, Ben Milbourne (chair, Common/RMIT) and Elizabeth Campbell (Kennedy Nolan), had the pleasure of delving into the latest sustainable designs and innovations across the state.

As a jury member, Mark draws on H2o’s track record in pioneering sustainable design and expertise in adaptive reuse projects. Notable H2o projects include the Advanced Technology Centre at Swinburne University, the first education building in Australia awarded a 5 Star Green Building Council of Australia rating; Australia’s largest research greenhouse, the highly specialised Plant Accelerator at the University of Adelaide; and Albert Park’s Lakeside Stadium, with the restoration of its 1926 heritage grandstand.

Committed to sustainable design that is practical and affordable, H2o Architects strive to reduce the impact of architecture on the environment. The Australian Institute of Architects’ Awards program provides an important platform for knowledge-sharing and leadership, encouraging all practices on the road towards a more sustainable future.

The 2021 Victorian Architecture Awards shortlist has now been released, with winners due to be announced in June.
Pictured: H2o Director and Co-founder, Mark O’Dwyer. A recognised leader in sustainable design, Mark regularly shares his knowledge through award programs, seminars and study tours.