Finalist 2022



The Nunawading Community Hub: a public space embodying monumentality, significance and dignity.

Located on the derelict Nunawading Primary School site, interlinked with its oval and Tunstall Park, lies the new Nunawading Community Hub. On the traditional land of the Woiworung, where large gatherings were held, this becomes a place of gathering and shared knowledge again.  The heritage schoolhouse is integral to the response, lying at the threshold to the site, retaining local materiality and celebrating the collective memory of many who spent their childhood there. The oval drives the highly transparent park interface. A highly diverse range of users has been knitted together through the process of designing this centre.

Design Brief

The Nunawading Community Hub design set out to achieve Council's strategic direction, to support significant population growth and to enhance the built and natural environments. The project relocated 27 different community groups taking advantage of the benefits of colocation. The aim was to create a welcoming, accessible, highly flexible, multi-use space to support all user group requirements plus offer facilities to the wider community. The challenge was to accommodate extremely disparate uses into one facility. The expected outcome was: “Community buildings are an important cultural, economic and social institution for the community. They play a crucial role in building social capital and contribute to the idea that ‘this community is a good place to be’. The aspiration of the Council is that the new hub will demonstrate an outstanding level of innovation and quality in both the process of design and the finished product.” Nunawading Community Hub Brief, 2016

This project was developed by:

Design Process

A highly collaborative design process was followed from inception to completion. The consultation process needed to be sensitive to the wants and needs of many and varied user groups, and to decant the information received into a concise, but accurate return brief for the project. There was considerable investment from the stakeholder groups, and relationships were formed between them and the team, giving fjmt very detailed assistance in quantifying the specifics of the brief, and how these might be translated spatially.

The process itself created excellent connection between future occupants. Significant emphasis was placed on the timetabling of activities, in order to justify the number and types of rooms, as well as the features of those rooms. Once this data was established, fjmt were able to schedule individual spaces, and analyse the functional relationships between them. In this way, fjmt was able to improve and enhance the brief. A rigorous, sensitve approach to the site allowed the scheme to seamlessly integrate with the heritage school and oval. We sought to create a specific 'monumentality', significance and dignity for this critical public place and the community values it embodies. Our response to a constrained budget was to deliver a considered design, detailing within a palette of prosaic materials. It is also playful, developing a dialogue with the surrounding post-war boom homes through its pitched roof profile. An open and inviting public place was created, expressing a sense of equitable access. The oval and heritage building drive its footprint. Flexible settings for an extensive range of activities are created whilst addressing specific user group needs. Inviting and transparent architecture connects to the natural assets of the landscape and suburban context. The project is conceived with simple forms responding to context with appropriate proportion while meeting functional, pragmatic and environmental control requirements.

Design Excellence

A highly challenging brief with an unprecedented number of user groups plus a constrained budget has been artfully translated into a high amenity, highly sustainable precinct which has exceeded the expectations of the community. This place is truly democratic, catering to its community's broadest and most specific preferences. It celebrates both diversity and unity as a benchmark for future community building development. To bring so many diverse occupants together and deliver a unified and welcoming facility required excellence in co-design and design resolution.

Twenty-seven disparate community groups were brought together in a single purpose-built facility, catering for the unique requirements of the Nunawading Lapidary Club, Whitehorse Arts Association and the local chapter of the U3A. A timber-lined basketball stadium provides state-of-the-art sports facilities. A dance hall and function space accommodate multipurpose use. Counselling rooms and large flexible meeting spaces occupy the school with Meals-on-Wheels and a pottery studio within the lower level. Dining areas open to the landscape. Accessible at varying points across the sloping site, the building resolves challenging conditions, connecting to the landscape and public domain via sweeping paths and landscape walls. Existing trees were enhanced by a vast range of new trees and plantings creating excellent outdoor settings. This white, seamless backdrop celebrates people and their creativity, activity and sense of togetherness. It celebrates the highly valued park and school building, integral to the memories and future lives of Nunawading's community. There is an emphasis on wellness and sustainability which far exceeds its 5 Green Star rating though supporting social connections, health, diversity and strong links to the outdoors. Glowing google reviews from users is testament to its success across the many functions: ‘Such a gorgeous space for the community and local sporting clubs to meet’

Design Innovation

The Hub is a best practice benchmark of how to resolve colocation of community uses to achieve a fit for purpose and highly flexible asset. Even with the most complex array of user groups, a beautiful and highly functional facility is achieved. Extensive and demanding requirements, have been innovatively resolved through rigorous consultation and identifying synergies of use, timetabling opportunities and highly efficient planning. This resulted in delivering a project of great complexity on a constrained budget. The process of consultation and codesign was in itself a benchmark of community strengthening, creating connections between disparate community groups prior to their relocation. In a time of significant population growth within Whitehorse Council, this facility offers a strong sense of local identity and place, while supporting diversity and difference.

The design focusses on the specificity of the context as well as the highly unique brief. It celebrates the culture of Nunawading from the perspective of the Woi Wurrung people, Nunawading School and Park and the booming post war years through to the diverse demographic of today. The project’s bold design includes many innovative features adding to amenity and high environmental performance. The building is carefully placed on the site optimising passive sustainable objectives. Maximum use of south glazing and shaded northern windows considerably reduces the heat load and maximising natural daylight. The building’s white colour, combined with solar panels and water collection, aids in minimising the energy footprint and water use. The large spans of the basketball court utilise timber trusses with walls lined with timber panels providing a highly sustainable, warm robust space. A redundant school site now integrates seamlessly into adjoining parkland with the addition of thousands of plants and trees. Additionally, water sensitive urban design is integrated through on site stormwater treatment via bio swales.

Design Impact

The Nunawading Community Centre provides an immense benefit to the community with over 27 different local groups based in the one contemporary home. Diverse cultural and learning groups are housed in state of the art facilities. The University of the 3rd age is one of the largest in the world teaching multiple classes from fine art to boot scooting, languages and cooking. Sporting activities include basketball, Badminton and dance of several genres and broad abilities. In addition the centre houses meals on wheels facilities where meals are prepared and distributed as well as providing community kitchen for those that want to meet and eat in the centre. The positive environmental impacts are detailed in the next criterion but also include the reuse and significant improvement of a local school building and regeneration of the oval and adjacent parkland.

The project supports council’s strategies in terms of economic development particularly as a business/arts and creative industry incubator, particularly in the creative LGA of Whitehorse. A central focus of the common area is a beautiful suspended work by Brian Robinson which celebrates the local First Nations (Woi Wurrung) creation story of the Bunjil, reconnecting the space to Country. This highly contemporary project is both a destination and a perfect fit for its location and its community. Effusive reviews from users are the most satisfying aspect of a completed project. Some google reviews below: - The BEST indoor sports stadium in the region. No doubt. - Beautiful place! Fantastic court! - I visit this place four times a week as part of U3A Nunawading Member. THE FACILITIES ARE EXCELLENT. Well thought out- Small rooms, Large rooms, Stadiums. Levels accessible by lift and stairs and long ramps. - It's all quite new but beautifully planned. We enjoyed a concert in the park in a very good setting.

Circular Design and Sustainability Features

Biophilic design strategies underpin the Nunawading Community Hub, showcasing ecologically sustainable design, connection to landscape and delivering the Community and Council's aspirations focussing on health and wellness. The building and precinct is designed to meet 5-star Greenstar and As-Built, and to respond to Council's climate change adaptation plan. Rainwater harvesting captures, retains and reuses 836.0 KL/annum of water on site, a siphonic drainage system, rain gardens and swales. Hundreds of trees and shrubs were planted across the site, including a community garden and citrus trees. Photovoltaic cells provide 76,000 kWh/Annum of energy; high levels of insulation, low VOC finishes and materials, double glazing and acoustic comfort are all utilised. The large spans of the basketball court utilise timber trusses with walls lined with timber panels providing a highly sustainable, warm and robust space.

The building is carefully placed on the site optimising passive sustainable objectives. Maximum use of south glazing and shaded northern windows reduces the heat load and maximises natural daylight. Beyond rating systems, sustainability has been considered in relation to wellness and social cohesion. The principle driver of the project is to support community. The planning of the spaces supports casual and un-planned experiences. Outdoor entertainment spaces, public art, and opening the building to the landscape foster wellbeing, sense of identity and interest. A strong sense of welcome is achieved ensuring that the entry to the building is designed with great consideration to wayfinding, and creating an identity. Individual groups are encouraged to maintain their identity, and express this to others, via display in the ‘public’ domain. Sustainability is a crucial principle in our approach, which aims to maximise opportunities to meet Whitehorse City Council's sustainability agenda, along with the ability to educate and facilitate a sustainable message to the broader community.

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