Maribyrnong College Sports Academy
Inspired by sports science, dwp|suters has designed an academy that embodies the essence of sporting prowess.
Client: Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
Project Team: John Schout, Mark van den Enden, Heather McQueen, Kris McIsaac, Belinda Hodkinson, Alex Hotchin
Builder: Behmer & Wright
Steel Fabricator: Melsteel
Shop Drawing Contractor: Dunsoft Drafting
Cladding Contractor: Beaconsfield Roofing
Landscape Architects: Rush Wright
Awards: Victorian State School Design Awards – Ministerial Award / IDEA Awards – Public Design Commendation
Building Size: 5535m2
Total Project Cost: Approximately $11 million
Maribyrnong Sports Academy– the first of its kind in Victoria– is unmistakably devoted to sporting excellence, and that dedication is evident from its iconic building, designed by architects dwp|suters.
Part of a vision for ‘building community’ in Melbourne’s western suburbs, the state government was interested in “raising the whole community by investing in iconic buildings and iconic programs,” recalls Rob Carroll, MSA sport director.
The Academy certainly fits the bill. From Gordon Street, to the east, it presents as a monolithic, 10-metre high, folded and inclined facade comprised of LYSAGHT CUSTOM ORB® profile made from COLORBOND® steel in the colour Deep Ocean®. This elevation, punctured by a white fenestrated box, gives the first indication of one of the key design drivers. Reminiscent of corporate boxes in sporting stadiums the world over, it was inspired by the sports science idea of ‘previsualisation’.
Other external walls are clad with dynamic sporting stripes, which were deliberately chosen to arouse the powerful emotions that an athlete draws upon while competing: the pride of wearing the yellow jersey or the green and gold, the loyalty that a football jumper inspires.
“The question for us was: ‘How could we employ the stripe as a positive dynamic addition that spoke of movement and would usurp the need for advertising?’” says John Schout, project leader at dwp|suters. The solution was a combination of fibre cement sheet, polycarbonate and LYSAGHT CUSTOM ORB® profile made from COLORBOND® Metallic steel in the colours Facade® and Axis® that expresses movement and compression – the kinetic nature of sport.
Internally, the concept of ‘previsualisation’ – which helps athletes to focus the mind and develop strategies to cope with fear, distraction and myriad other obstacles they might face at an elite level – comes to the fore. Knowing that the key to good visualisation technique is attention to detail – what might an athlete see, hear and feel? The architects replicated details from competitive sporting environments throughout the building.
The double height foyer acts as a internal street and also contains a strength and conditioning area, recovery rooms, consultation spaces, change rooms and, at the upper level, teaching, learning and staffing areas. To the west, the sports hall contains a large flexible court for basketball and volleyball, a smaller specially lit hall for badminton and table tennis, plus sports science, reception, storage and amenity areas. The requirements of cost, material efficiency and design intention all came together to economically deliver facilities that could meet international training standards, the likes of which are not typically included in school sports halls. Steel was essential to achieving this goal: as the most effective material for both cost and efficiency it embodies the school’s motto, ‘Pride in Performance’.
Since opening in 2010, the building has captured the imagination of the community and wider public, with student and teaching positions highly sought after. TheSportsAcademyalready has 10 Olympians on staff, and students fromNew ZealandandHong Kong.
The public reaction to the building “has been a real buzz,” Carroll says. “You drive past the facility and it is an iconic design - that is deliberate,” he adds. “The building sends a message to the community that this is about high-performance sport, that this place is going somewhere. You know before you actually see any signage what this place is about.”