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.


Inspiring innovation: Design Factory Melbourne

Posted on Feb 11, 2022

As architects and designers, we value our role in creating spaces that support next-generation research and innovation. Our design for the Swinburne University of Technology’s innovation hub, the Design Factory Melbourne (DFM), continues to support vital design-led problem solving in our post-pandemic world.


As a multidisciplinary, purpose-built design space, The DFM brings together industry, researchers and students to solve real-world problems within an interdisciplinary environment. Part of a global network, the DFM was the first of its kind in Australia, taking inspiration from the original Design Factory at Aalto University in Helsinki.


Balancing new and old, our brief was to rework the heritage-listed Edwardian-era Hawthorn fire station with the addition of a new four level extension. The new hub focuses on interconnectedness and transparency, contrasting the secular layout of the existing building while supporting the innovation programmes and inclusivity.


The new building contrasts the heritage building in geometric and tectonic composition, but draws from its rich materiality, with ribbons of glazing complement the bandages of the heritage building. The upper floors of the building include flexible spaces with sliding and stackable walls, allowing users to readily reconfigure spaces to their diverse requirements.


Visit to learn more about the DFM and its current research and projects.


H2O-Architects-Melbourne-Australia-Swinburne Innovation Hub-04.jpg

Pictured: The Design Factory Melbourne, which forms part of Swinburne’s Innovation Precinct, and includes our award-winning Factory of the Future. Photo by John Gollings.


Launching soon: Disruptions poetry book by Tim Hurburgh

Posted on Feb 4, 2022

H2o Director Tim Hurburgh is thrilled to soon be launching his first book, DISRUPTIONS, Tasmania in Poetry – Reflections of an architect.


Renowned for his award-winning designs, Tim is now sharing another of his passions, poetry. Inspired by his hometown near the Derwent River north of Hobart, Tim’s poems offer a fresh perspective on the fabled Apple Isle.


Tim’s interest in writing began when he was invited to write a series of short stories for Highland Digest, and in recent years, he’s been mentored by renowned Tasmanian poet and writer Janet Upcher. Tim has produced more than thirty poems exploring either Tasmanian or universal themes, a selection of which feature in his new book.


In the book, Tim’s poems are accompanied by brief narratives in plain prose, backgrounding the ideas explored in each poem. Inspired by the tutoring he received from Melbourne painter Richard Birmingham, who encourages students to develop their own unique ‘mark’, Tim’s vibrant sketches are intertwined with his poems.


Pictured: A sketch accompanying Tim’s poem SERENDIPITY. The book is a collection of poems and sketches inspired by Tim’s Tasmanian roots and architectural career. DISRUPTIONS is due to launch soon, stay tuned for details.


New projects launching in 2022

Posted on Jan 21, 2022

Our studio is back, recharged and ready to launch into the new year with a number of significant new education and affordable housing projects across Victoria and interstate.


Highlights include Halycon Village, a major multi-stage affordable housing development for HousingFirst in Brighton, a campus-wide masterplan to redevelop Montrose Primary School, along with exciting new projects for RMIT, Swinburne University and GOTAFE in Wangaratta. We’re also working with Ambulance Victoria and Victoria University on a new office and training facility in Sunshine, as well as new regional nursing training facilities for LaTrobe University in Mildura and Wodonga.


This year, we’re continuing our long-standing collaboration with RMIT, working on several exciting refurbishments and new spaces across the university’s city campus, including a flexible new workspace for the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S), a new Animation Lab for the College of Design and Social Context, along with workspace refurbishments to RMIT buildings 21 and 51.


Permits have also been received for our Faraday Street townhouse development in Carlton, working again with the same team delivering the high-profile McKinnon Secondary College Gymnasium, builder’s Jointly and the award-winning Hobart-based structural engineers Gandy & Roberts. As part of this development, H2o Director Tim Hurburgh is working on plans for a sustainable ‘tiny house’ to occupy part of the existing warehouse prior to construction.


In Tasmania, we’re pleased to be revisiting the historic Hobart Real Tennis Club for several upgrades to their existing playing and club facilities. We are also looking forward to the completion of key projects in the coming months, including the first stage of The Friends’ School Redevelopment in Hobart, the Flinders University Biodiversity Facility in South Australia and the Little Grey St Apartments for HousingFirst in St Kilda.


Due for completion in 2022: The new Sports Centre for The Friends’ School in Hobart, designed by H2o Architects with Bence Mulcahy.


Design on show: Open House Hobart 2021

Posted on Dec 20, 2021

As part of last month’s Open House Hobart, H2o Director Tim Hurburgh had the pleasure of hosting the first ever open house of Robin Boyd’s Linden House. One of Boyd’s lesser-known works – and his only project in Tasmania – it was a privilege to help bring this hidden masterpiece into public view.


Located a short drive from Hobart, on the banks of the Derwent River in Plenty, Boyd designed Linden House to be a magnificently scaled, multipurpose glazed pavilion which “floats” between its grand swimmimg pool and the river. The house is still remarkably intact after nearly 60 years – right down to the painting of the front door in the architect’s favoured semi-gloss forest green.


Also on show in this year’s Open House program, was the Hobart Real Tennis Club, featuring the H2o-designed 2002 extension to the historic club. Founded in 1875, the Hobart Real Tennis Club was the first real tennis club in Australia, and one of the oldest active clubs in the world. ‘Real’ tennis was the forerunner to today’s tennis game – originally ‘lawn’ tennis.


The project involved the reworking and bringing together of two heritage-listed structures, featuring a new entrance and amenities pavilion with roof terrace. A highlight is the timber trellis-like screen, designed to reflect the detail of the existing buildings, while also recalling the unique timber racquets used for the sport. The screen provides shading and supports an existing grape vine planted in 1974 by world champion French real tennis player Pierre Etchebaster.


Pictured: Linden House at Open House Hobart 2021. Boyd and the original owners shared a passion for Japanese design and were inspired by the Derwent Valley’s all timber oast houses. Photo by Matt Sansom.



Celebrating community: Avondale Heights Library and Learning Centre

Posted on Dec 6, 2021

Revisiting one of our favourite community projects, the Avondale Heights Library and Learning Centre. Located on a prominent corner site in Melbourne’s burgeoning west, the centre provides a vital new integrated learning and leisure hub for residents.


Offering a ‘one stop shop’, the centre caters for a range of community needs across a culturally diverse population. Our design combines new and old facilities into a significant, adventurous and eye-catching landmark. The centre is easily identifiable and accessible, reinforcing a commitment to the community and its multi-cultural identity.


The project involved the refurbishment of an existing former gymnasium, centrally located on the site, including complete re-cladding of the exterior to create a uniform visual relationship with the new community centre. The new building houses office space and meeting rooms, flexible learning spaces and a library. Featuring brightly coloured and patterned panels, the materials palette includes a mix of ceramic tiles, timber, powder-coated steel, fritted glass and composite panels.


Designed to evolve over time, the centre is adaptable for small and large gatherings, featuring flexible spaces to suit the diverse social, leisure and learning needs of local residents. Thermally efficient and utilising low-energy fittings, the centre also includes a rain tank, a solar hot water system, and a south facing saw toothed roof to the library area to provide natural daylight.


Caption: The design was inspired by the bold colourings and exaggerated patterning of Melbourne artist Howard Arkley, famous for his psychedelic depiction of Australian suburbia. Photo by Trevor Mein.



Nearing completion: McKinnon Secondary College Gymnasium

Posted on Nov 29, 2021

A contemporary, light-filled gymnasium for the school and wider community to enjoy, our latest project for McKinnon Secondary College is nearing completion.


Positioned at the north end of campus with its own carpark, the new gymnasium is easily accessible to both the school and general public. The new facility offers competition-grade basketball, volleyball and netball timber courts, along with ample amenities, including change rooms, a kiosk, storage and office facilities.


The new gymnasium creates an important visual and physical link to the main campus, while providing a backdrop to the main outdoor sport and recreation area. Taking cues from classical architecture, the design features a gable roof form with generously pitched roof, gable ends and colonnade-inspired entry façade. The refined structural design showcases the elegant exposed structural steel work, further highlighting the incredible natural light.


One of our longest standing clients, the new gymnasium is the latest high-profile project for the school, following the completion of the Senior Centre and Library Hub. Currently under construction by Jointly, the project is due for completion early in the new year.


Under Construction: The pared-back form is complemented by a gentle material palette, including ply cladding and wood wool panels, which also provide exceptional acoustic performance.