Text description provided by the architects. Since lodging a building with the GBCA is a time-consuming, technical and complex act, it takes a leap of faith for a client to commit to the 5 Star Green Star process. It takes a special commitment if the building is a relatively small regional project. GippsTAFE’s brief for this project was a 1615sqm learning centre in an exposed greenfields site on the edge of Leongatha, located in Gippsland in Victoria’s south-east.
The client’s faith was rewarded—in March the project became the first TAFE building in Australia to be awarded a 5 Star Green Star (Education Design v1) rating by the Green Building Council of Australia.
PMA’s design approach was to integrate, rather than separate the building’s conceptual and sustainable design aspects. The intention of the practice was to create a ‘performance envelope’ that responds to the kinetics of the environment.
The wind engineers advised on the effect of ‘natural wind considerations’ on the building. The building’s envelope was designed to enhance natural ventilation within the building in order to alleviate excessive solar heating, and minimise extreme wind gusts around the building to maintain comfort and safety. The wind scoops on the south elevation were designed to induce positive pressures from westerly and easterly winds, maximizing suction pressure into teaching and staff areas. Fairings on the north elevation deflect hot northerly winds and capture cooling easterly winds.
The building’s aerodynamic effect is an outcome of active environmental engineering design, synthesised into the building envelope. The aerodynamic form of the building both implies sustainability and technically assists thermal performance. The project embraces the question: what does a 5 Star Green Star educational building look like? Should it be bejewelled with sustainable elements in order to signify its environmental credentials (Melbourne City Council’s CH2 House) or take a more synthesised approach (Lyons’ Kangan Institute Automotive Centre of Excellence Stage 1)?
The design of the building’s section reflects the intention to relate the internal building form to the kinetics of the environment. The section is an outcome of daylight and thermal modelling by the environmental engineer (IrwinConsult), wherein the high heat load of the summer sun is excluded, but the radiant heat of the lower sun during the cooler months results in heat gain and daylight reflection into classrooms from highlight windows. Spatially, a kind of daylight canyon is produced, with sunlight reflectors traversing the main corridor.
The scale of the wind scoops on the road elevation expands towards the east reinforcing the experience of accelerating out of town into the country—the building is more static on the west (town) end, and more distended on the east (country) end. The building’s steel cladding relates to industrial sheds located on the edge of country towns. The ‘built contours’ in the landscape plan are an extension of the orientation of classrooms in the plan. The contemporary, even futuristic performance envelope enfolds a lively and diverse series of interior spaces. The viewlines that are created contribute to an assessed category (Indoor Environment Quality) in the Education tool.
Views also lead to the remodelled landscape, which includes a new small forest and wetland.
The external shell folds down to create external classrooms of diverse spatial qualities, at the same time exploring the Australian veranda typology.