New projects on the drawing board

Posted on Oct 15, 2021

H2o Architects has a number of exciting new projects currently underway, including a masterplan for the expanding Montrose Primary School. Following the opening of the Montrose Primary School Gymnasium earlier this year, we’re pleased to once again be working with the school, the Victorian School Building Authority (VSBA) and wider Montrose community to redevelop the campus 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.


Our design seeks to improve indoor and outdoor learning connections, landscaping and site circulation, pedestrian safety and staff car parking. Central to the plan is the reduction of the school’s carbon footprint through a targeted sustainable design response and focus on environmental issues.


New project: the recently completed Montrose Primary School Gymnasium (pictured) will be at the heart of our proposed new masterplan to redevelop the school. Photo by Trevor Mein.



Building community: Truganina P-9 College

Posted on Oct 8, 2021

As students prepare to return to face-to-face learning in the coming weeks, we’re revisiting one of our favourite greenfield projects, Truganina P-9 College. A brand-new school for a growing community, the college is designed for flexibility and diversity, future-proofed to support one of Melbourne’s fastest-growing suburbs.


Located 21km west of Melbourne’s CBD, the college has grown from around 120 students in its first year, to almost 2000 students. Founded on the values of respect, resilience, responsibility and learning, the school has been central in building and connecting the diverse Truganina community.


“The college is located in the growth corridor of Victoria in Wyndham. And we get to impact the lives of so many students…with a completely diverse set of students and learners”. Brad Robertson, Learning Specialist Engagement & Agency Truganina P-9 College.


Designed and built over two stages, the first stage provides flexible learning areas to suit the varying needs across the co-educational Prep to Year 9 demographic. It was important the design of the buildings present a strong identity and connection to the community. The scale and materials choices reinforce the school’s presence in the fast-developing urban fabric, with new buildings positioned along the east and north boundary with clear entrance points.


Completed in 2017, the second stage includes a new gymnasium and shared drama area, with additional multi-purpose learning areas and specialist spaces. The spaces have been structured in a hierarchy of environments, suitable for different age groups and learning paths, as well as catering for the needs of different cultural backgrounds. The landscape design also caters for a range of outdoor curriculum, including science and food technology gardens, primary vegetable garden, sensory garden and performance areas.


As specialists in education design, we understand the importance of creating spaces that both enhance the learning experience for students and offer opportunities for community-building. Our current school projects under construction include the new McKinnon Secondary School gymnasium and the The Friends’ School Redevelopment in Hobart.



Truganina P-9 College. All buildings are north facing (except admin which faces east to the street), linked by generous, column free covered ways or north facing overhangs. Photo by Trevor Mein.



In focus: University of Technology Sydney New Science Research Facility

Posted on Sep 29, 2021

Thank you to our clients at UTS for sharing their latest video showcasing our New Science Research Facility. Featuring Australian-first purpose-built laboratories, the extension of building CB04 delivers high-impact research at a globally competitive scale, generate greater engagement with industry, support student outcomes, and create a more attractive and engaging campus.


Featured earlier this year in Architecture & Design, the facility is described as a space for “big ideas and big breakthroughs”, meeting the increasing demand for high-tech research space. An ambitious research facility determined to make a significant contribution to the challenges of our times, the new facility aims to attract the world’s best phenomics, advanced analytics, translational medicine and chemical synthesis researchers.


Our brief was to replace the existing single level building with a seven-storey facility with world-class laboratories and safety features. The new building on this challenging infill site needed to stand alone yet align with the floorplates of the adjoining buildings to improve connectivity with campus. We also needed to future proof the building itself, rigidising the frame so that ten more storeys could one day be added.


We took an organic approach to the lab interiors, introducing into the clinical uses a warm colourful identity mimicking ‘a new dawn’, rising in colour intensity at each floor of the building. Likewise, the new nitrogen generator is showcased on Level 4 at the vibrant re-designed entrance to the building from the pedestrian bridge. On the roof is an almost otherworldly ensemble of exposed critical infrastructure.


“This facility provides them (UTS researchers) with new tools to continue their ground-breaking work. It will also be an additional drawcard to our campus, giving us capacity to continue to attract top-level researchers from all over the world,” Patrick Woods, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Resources) of UTS.


Beautifully captured in the video, the powder-coated UTS yellow flashes within window frames on the façade provide an energetic frisson – like a bolt of lightning. Drone video by UTS.




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.