Biophilic Design in Prisons

By Rachel Hur

Scenario

Imagine that you are in a cubicle located in the middle of the office floor plate. Your office has a glazed front, but you are looking into another open office. You have no real window or view to the outside, so you can't tell if it's raining outside or sunny. If you are lucky, and you do have a window, it's fixed, and you are looking into an office in the neighbouring building that is five metres away.

The fluorescent lighting that you sit under for eight hours has thrown out your body's natural circadian rhythm. The ventilation is alright, but you start to feel droopy at around 3pm because the carbon dioxide levels in your shoebox have risen. It might even feel a bit stuffy, regardless of the door being open or closed. As you don't have an operable window, you have been breathing in recycled air all day. When you get outside and take a breath, you will instantly notice that the air outside is fresh.

Now multiply that by five days a week, 48 weeks a year. Maybe you will get a pot plant in a few weeks.

The Biophilia Hypothesis

Exposure to the natural world is essential for human wellbeing because humans have an innate connection with the natural world (Gills).

It sounds obvious, doesn't it? But how often do we rely on the natural world to recharge and reconnect? We live in a world full of distractions and in a culture that prioritises efficiency, quick change and instant gratification. Is it any wonder that the rates of anxiety and depression are increasing, and our knowledge and awareness of mental health issues and mindfulness are growing to combat this?

We need the natural environment now more than ever. To look beyond the concrete jungle that has become our normal life, and find moments to breathe, destress and recover. Nature has been there all along, patiently waiting for us to stop, take a breath and recharge.

What does this have to do with design and architecture, you might ask?

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve.  Photography by Scott Burrows Photography.

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve. Photography by Scott Burrows Photography.

Biophilic Design – what is it?

Biophilic design philosophy encourages the use of natural systems and processes in design to allow for exposure to nature. Exposure to nature has been found to have positive responses on human psychology and physiology in contribution to improved health and wellbeing (Gills, Soderlund).

It is the integration of the biophilia hypothesis into design. Biophilic design has been further incorporated into environmental psychology theories of Attention Restoration Theory and Stress Recovery Theory. Both theories suggest that there are stressful and non-stressful environments and that non-stressful environments can actively help people recover from stress and fatigue (Gills).

These theories are supported by studies that have found that exposure to nature reduces heart rate variability and pulse rates, decreases blood pressure, lowers cortisol and increases parasympathetic nervous system activity, while lowering sympathetic nervous system activity (Soderlund).

Biophilia is not merely about providing trees and greenery, but consists of different natural layers, which can be divided into direct experience of nature (light, air, weather), indirect experience of nature (natural materials, evoking nature) and the experience of space and place (prospect and refuge, organised complexity).

What do we do with it?

As we specialise in correctional facilities here at Guymer Bailey, we strive to create humane environments that allow for rehabilitation. One of the key ways we do this is using biophilic design.

Let's face it; prisons are known to be "not nice". When we look at the statistics, 44.8% of prisoners released during 2014 – 2015 returned to prison within two years across Australia.

With a design focus on rehabilitation and not punishment, part of this rehabilitation is creating therapeutic spaces and calm environments where people can feel safe and secure. A lot of our decisions in the design process are around biophilic design such as providing access to natural light and fresh air, views to the landscape and use of colour and materials.

Enhancing living quality doesn't have to be complicated or expensive, it just comes down to prioritising and efficient design, and in the case of our secure facilities, the balance with security requirements.

Rivergum Residential Treatment Centre, a project completed almost a year ago in the Grampians Region, is an example of successful biophilic design implementation with views out beyond the perimeter fence to the mountains, natural light in every room for both residents and staff, and either operable windows or natural ventilation units in every room across the site. Timber has also been used internally and externally, and we retained as many existing trees as possible to keep that connection to nature. So far, we have received positive staff feedback about the therapeutic design of the facility and the benefits of being able to open all the office windows.

Rivergum Residential Treatment Centre.  Photography by Scott Burrows Photography.

Rivergum Residential Treatment Centre. Photography by Scott Burrows Photography.

What can you do with it?

Biophilic design can reduce stress, improve cognitive performance and positively impact emotions and mood. What's more, it can be implemented in all typologies, including residential, education, commercial, health, and as you have seen corrections. We've even started to implement it in our own studios.

GBA CO2.png

Our Brisbane studio has many operable windows, granted Brisbane has much better weather than Melbourne! In Melbourne, we are restricted from major modifications because we're on the fifth floor of a building but have a row of potted peace lilies to help filter the air. We have also recently replaced a fixed window with operable louvres, and even though it's only one, we've already started feeling the difference in the air (and no, it's not just the cold air of winter!). The CO2 levels are lower on that side of the studio as well.

It's not the easiest thing to change in a building already built, but biophilic design is something that we can design into new projects. Hospitals are seeing the benefits of biophilia for patients and have started building in courtyards and windows. Prisons are doing it; schools are doing it. When will you start doing it?

References

Gillis, K., Gatersleben, B. "A Review of Psychological Literature on Health and Wellbeing Benefits of Biophilic Design"

Soderlund, J., Newman, P. "Improving Mental Health in Prisons Through Biophilic Design"

About the Author

Rachel Hur specialises correctional architecture with a strong focus on rehabilitation and creating therapeutic spaces. This, combined with her passion for sustainability and biophilic design in prisons, makes her a valued member of the Guymer Bailey corrections team. Rachel was the Project Lead on the Rivergum Residential Treatment Centre, which was recently shortlisted in the 2019 Victorian Architecture Awards Sustainability Category.

Rivergum Residential Treatment Centre

Rivergum Residential Treatment Centre, a secure residential treatment facility designed to house 20 residents from serious sex offender and violent offender cohorts, has recently opened in the Grampians region of Victoria.

The post-sentence facility, designed by Guymer Bailey Architects, has been created to provide intensive treatment to target rehabilitation prior to transitioning back into the community and includes staff offices and training spaces, various rooms for programs, training and education and individual residential units to encourage independent and community living.

Rivergum Residential Treatment Centre.  Photography by Scott Burrows Photography.

Rivergum Residential Treatment Centre. Photography by Scott Burrows Photography.

Rachel Hur, the project lead on the Rivergum Residential Treatment Centre, said the Centre had been designed to reduce recidivism rates in Victoria.“This facility is the first of its kind in Victoria and displays the commitment Corrections Victoria has to providing intensive treatment and supervision to serious offenders to reduce risk of reoffending.”

To avoid an institutional feel, the Centre uses a mix of warm materials such as timber both internally and externally throughout the buildings, as well as landscaped outdoor areas (with walking paths, gardens and exercise equipment) to provide a greater connection to nature from both staff and resident areas. Independent living has also been encouraged through the design, with individual residential units linked to communal spaces.

“The individual residential units are designed to encourage independent living for residents to help them transition back into society. Shared communal spaces also allow for community-type interactions with other residents in a way that is very different to the operations within a correctional facility. Research from the UK has shown that supported housing like this is an important part of effective rehabilitation and reintegration.” Rachel said.

There are three standout design features of Rivergum Residential Treatment Centre:

The Perimeter Fence

Due to the secure nature of the brief, the perimeter fence still needed to function like a prison perimeter – but these traditionally feel harsh and overbearing. To minimise the correctional feel, a fence was designed with precast concrete panels at the bottom and with a perforated steel fence above. An image of trees is created with the perforations in the fence providing visual relief in the perimeter border. The fence has been detailed in such a way that it maintains the required security levels.

The Timber Cladding

The main building is clad in timber on the second floor to distinguish it from the other single-storey buildings and almost eliminate the feeling of being inside a secure facility. The timber cladding also forms an anti-climb façade to the resident side. Blackbutt timber was used due to its amazing, rich tone that will naturally grey over time.

Programs Building at Rivergum.  Photography by Scott Burrows Photography.

Programs Building at Rivergum. Photography by Scott Burrows Photography.

The Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) Initiatives

To ensure sustainability through the design of the Rivergum Residential Treatment Centre, we worked closely with our expert ESD Consultant who guided our material and systems selections to maximise quality and long-term savings. These initiatives also aim to reduce energy consumption and decrease impact on the environment.

Passive Design: Passive environmental design principles were incorporated into the buildings to reduce the need for mechanical heating and cooling, and calculated sun shading elements such as the timber fins on the main building’s northern façade were also built in to reduce summer heat loads. Other passive design techniques include attention to building orientation, insulation, natural ventilation and thermal properties of materials.

The windows of the facility were specified to have high performance, double-glazed units, which minimises heat transmittance, and thermally broken aluminium window frames to eliminate cold bridges from the outside temperature into the buildings. The staff offices also have double glazed operable louvres, which operate automatically depending on the internal office conditions to maintain optimum indoor air quality. 

Putting preference on natural ventilation to achieve high indoor air quality levels, most of the rooms across the site, including the residential units, utilise a Lunos unit, which continuously trickles in fresh air from the outside without the need for a full HVAC system and thus decreases energy use. The main Programs building was given a central, triangular courtyard to minimise depths of floor plates to maximise natural day light into the spaces, reducing the need for full internal lighting during the day.

Central Staff Courtyard.  Photography by Scott Burrows Photography.

Central Staff Courtyard. Photography by Scott Burrows Photography.

Materials: Insulated precast concrete sandwich panels were used inside to maintain high R-values and stabilise internal temperatures. The floors throughout the facility are generally honed concrete, which also attributes to thermal mass, reduces the need for additional flooring material and creates a raw but characteristic finish to the spaces.

Insulated sandwich panel roofing completes the continuous insulation around the buildings. This was achieved by careful detailing of the insulation in the walls and to the underside of the slab which all join with the roof insulation like an uninterrupted wrap around the building. This essentially stops any heat or cool air leaking out of the buildings, which can lead to overuse of HVAC systems and creates a continuous insulation wrap around the buildings .

Staff Breakout.  Photography by Scott Burrows Photography.

Staff Breakout. Photography by Scott Burrows Photography.

Residential units use the thermal mass of the brick veneer and concrete filled structural walls to keep the units cool in the summer and warm in the winter without mechanical systems . The floors in the residential units have in-slab hydronic heating. The high thermal mass of the concrete allows for it to absorb, store and release heat, thus making the heating system more effective with less energy use for winter months. All the residential units also utilise the Lunos units and have operable windows, filling the units with constant fresh air and freedom for users to control the internal environment based on their needs.

A geothermal system supplies energy for the hydronic heating, further reducing the heating energy consumption. The geothermal system also provides cooling for the mechanical systems in the main programs building by circulating coolant through loops in the ground that use the natural sub-surface temperatures to cool down before recirculating again.

Geothermal energy is still not very common in Australia, but when used in conjunction with the other sustainable initiatives at Rivergum, such as understanding thermal mass of materials like concrete and combining it with effective systems like in-slab heating, it is designed to reduce energy consumption and provides a better environmental outcome as it relies on natural ground temperatures and only requires a small pump to recirculate coolant through the pipes.

Multi-Faith Chapel and Contemplative Garden.  Photography by Scott Burrows Photography.

Multi-Faith Chapel and Contemplative Garden. Photography by Scott Burrows Photography.

On Site Collection: External sustainable initiatives were also included in the design such as solar panel shade structures over the car park and thoughtful design of networked swales to maximise stormwater capture for storage in underground water tanks.

The solar shade structure use is a two-fold: one was to provide off-grid power to the facility; and the other, to provide staff vehicles protection from the extreme summer and winter temperatures. Each car space is estimated to provide approximately 3kWh. To compare, an average household of one person uses approximately 9kWh per day. 60 car spaces are covered, which means there is enough power generated to supply around 20 single households per day.

The facility is 100% electric, and the inspiration behind this innovative idea was the Department’s aspiration for Net Zero Energy in all new facilities. By harnessing clean energy, the facility can reduce its carbon footprint and has a chance to offset the embodied and consumed energy of the materials, construction and use of the facility.

Solar Panel Shade Structure.  Photography by Scott Burrows Photography.

Solar Panel Shade Structure. Photography by Scott Burrows Photography.

The Rivergum Residential Treatment Centre is a clear example of what can be achieved through innovative rehabilitative design. Providing a non-institutional space which still operates as a secure facility, residents can more easily adjust to life in the community.

The Rivergum Residential Treatment Centre was recently shortlisted in the 2019 Victorian Architecture Awards Sustainability Category.

Normalisation in the Correctional Environment

Normalisation has become a bit of a buzzword in the design of correctional facilities, but what does it really mean? A group of the Guymer Bailey team sat down recently to discuss what constitutes a normalised environment and how close we’re getting to achieving it.

What does normalising a correctional environment mean? What do you see as the main benefits?

Kavan Applegate –  The normalisation of ‘what’ needs to be asked. Is a correctional environment aiming to be/look/feel like a house? Or a school campus? Is a cell trying to feel like a bedroom? Or is it more about normalising daily routines and activities? “Normal” environments are often messy or untidy, but institutions aim to be clean and tidy. Is it OK if a cell is a mess, like someone lives at home? Maybe ‘normalised’ isn’t the right word?

Yoshi Seki – In my opinion, normalcy is about allowing prisoners to manage their life within prison to give them a better chance of adjusting back into society upon release. Normalisation comes about through a combination of the physical environment and the way the correctional centre operates. It’s about emphasising the rehabilitation aspect more than punishment, which ultimately reduces chance of reoffending. 

Ravenhall Correctional Centre.  Photography by Scott Burrows Photography.

Ravenhall Correctional Centre. Photography by Scott Burrows Photography.

Rachel Hur – For me, it’s about providing a humane space – which is difficult to define because there are so many different views on corrections and there is a certain dogma around what a prison should be.

Amanda Larsson – The environment should cater for the natural variations in people’s personality and mood. The interiors and landscape should cater for everything from large active social groups, to quieter conversation spaces and areas of solitude. The simple act of providing variation in the size of seating groups can create different zones of privacy and interaction that mimics societal norms.

Ben Roberts - I think the research on this topic speaks for itself. We need to change the mentality of prisons as a tool of punishment. How can people be expected to rehabilitate and normalise back into society if we lock them in a hard concrete box?

Alie Kennedy - Making sure that it is not institutional is so important for rehabilitation of the prisoners. I see that giving the prisoners an environment that they can be proud of will generally encourage them to treat it with respect, as well as changing their mood about their environment and themselves and each other. We know that most prisoners have not had the easiest life and a “normal” environment might be the one they have never experienced – which comes back to Kavan’s earlier point about defining what ‘normal’ means. I think we need to do our bit to promote this and contribute to dropping recidivism rates as much as we can. 

Ralph Bailey - If prisoners are treated well and given opportunities, they can develop behaviour management and self-control skills, and can learn vocational skills that will benefit them on their return to society. Treat them poorly and they’re more likely to leave prison angry and with limited skills to obtain work and integrate back into society, which makes recidivism more likely.

Craig Blewitt – I agree, prisoners are sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment. The vast majority of prisoners are released back into general society at some point, so it’s important that the conditions inside help prisoners to develop and maintain a normalised routine so that they’re better prepared for release. Simple things such as getting up and going to work or education, taking care of their own health, meals and laundry can play a huge role in helping prisoners transition to normal life once they are released.

Ralph Bailey – Ongoing visitation from family and friends is critical to normalising the life of prisoners. It allows them to maintain and, in many cases, repair the relationships that will support them throughout their sentence and underpin their integration back into society when they’re released.

Amanda Larsson – The landscape environment plays a huge role in destressing this experience for visitors. The approach to the site, and the walk from the carpark to the gatehouse set the tone for the visits experience. The connection between the gatehouse and visits which can often be a sterile and confronting environment, has the opportunity to provide a zone of respite for visitors to decompress after moving through security screening – and we have had the opportunity to embrace this approach in recent projects.

Ben Roberts - Nature and the built environment can drastically change people’s emotions, and there is no reason a prison can’t take advantage of this. If we provide spaces where visitors feel welcome, they’ll come back. If we can provide spaces where prisoners can reflect, learn, grow they must have a better chance when they get back into society.

Rachel Hur – It begins with the architecture of the whole place because it can influence how someone feels and acts in a space. Therefore, being able to inject elements for basic human needs such as access to daylight, fresh air and nature are very fundamental and pretty much a necessity for any sort of design.

Yoshi Seki – I couldn’t agree more, and I think that’s where design can play a big role. Prisons are often a very confrontational place for visitors, so by making the experience for visitors – the gatehouse, security screening and the visits centre – as welcoming as possible, it helps to encourage visitors to return.

Hopkins Correctional Centre.  Photography by Scott Burrows Photography.

Hopkins Correctional Centre. Photography by Scott Burrows Photography.

How do you balance creating a normalised environment with the security and movement control required for a correctional centre?

Ben Roberts - This is the challenge. In part comes down to the architecture and partly the operations. I think we need to rely on both for the best result and not just one or the other. We need architecture that gives prisoners opportunity and need to trust the staff enough to manage this.

Rachel Hur - This is actually quite an interesting design challenge. The security and movement control are obviously a top priority for the safety of everyone in the facility, including staff, but it’s trying to find a creative solution for “normalising” this that’s a good challenge and can be achieved in different ways.

Yoshi Seki – I think the approach generally depends of the security level of the facility as this often determines the level of freedom afforded to prisoners and the approaches we take as designers to normalising the environment. An example would be the selection of finishes to suit different security levels of accommodation. In a minimum-security facility, we’re able to select more domestic style finishes in order to soften and normalise environment. Where dealing with higher security classifications, we need to specify more robust and durable materials, so the challenge becomes making selections that still create a normalised and engaging feel for occupants.

Amanda Larsson – The same consideration for materiality and finishes applies in the landscape design for different security classifications. Our objective is always to ensure enough soft scaping in the form of garden beds and trees make it into the design without compromising safety, but the security level then influences how we achieve that objective. In lower security facilities the experience of the landscape is generally tactile – planting prisoners can touch and interact with. In higher security facilities its more of a visual connection to borrowed landscapes, with the accessible landscape elements becoming more subdued.

Ralph Bailey – The effective segregation and movement controls for different prisoner cohorts can also help to provide normalised environment for all prisoners. By designing correctional facilities to reduce the likelihood of conflicting prisoner groups from coming into direct contact with each other, it helps to create a sense of safety for prisoners. And, this is even more-so when it can be achieved without relying on timetabling to avoid the interactions. When a prisoner feels safe in their environment, they’re more likely to be more social and more willing to participate in rehabilitative and vocational programs and training.

Amanda Larsson – How you go about creating a secure barrier to accommodation communities or a whole facility can have a huge impact on the whether an environment feels normalised or not. While there is always the security reality of needing fences and walls to contain and separate prisoner cohorts, innovative design solutions can break down the visual scale of the barriers. Through varying materials and creating views to landscaped spaces through and beyond the fences and walls, it can decrease the feeling of prisoners feeling enclosed or being ‘caged in’.

Ben Roberts - Technology is providing opportunities for managing prisoner movements, and this is something that will keep improving. Advancements and cost reductions are already allowing surveillance in areas that would have previously put a guard in a dangerous position. I’m sure this will improve further allowing us to stretch correctional design in ways that we couldn’t before.

How close are we getting to creating a truly normalised correctional environment? What areas can we improve on or give more consideration to?

Kavan Applegate - I think we’ve come a reasonable distance toward a normalised environment in some jurisdictions. Hopkins Correctional Centre and Ravenhall Correctional Centre both have open campuses which are approaching the scale and aesthetic of university campuses. Individual buildings still use concrete and blockwork, which is necessary from a construction approach, but there definitely needs to be more focus on reducing the scale of the large accommodation buildings – at least in terms of visual bulk, variation, and colour.

Yoshi Seki - I think the design of cell fit outs and colour schemes still needs more work – this is where many prisoners spend the majority of their time. While the need to minimise ligature points does decrease design options, and the robustness requirements limit the options for materiality, this is an area that will see more development in the coming years.

Rivergum Residential Treatment Centre.  Photography by Scott Burrows Photography.

Rivergum Residential Treatment Centre. Photography by Scott Burrows Photography.

Craig Blewitt – I think smaller scale projects such as the Rivergum Residential Treatment Centre and Totalspace Design’s redevelopment of the Ruby Unit at Adelaide Women’s Prison have shown how the incorporation of many materials not normally allowed within secure facilities allows the creation of a very domestic feel within quite a secure environment. And, with minimal risk.

Alie Kennedy – These projects have gone a long way to creating a normalised environments for prisoners, but we still have to acknowledge the security overlays of the environment we’re designing means that normalising every aspect of a prison design has limitations – and that inspires us to constantly strive to find ways of getting as close to the normalised environment, within these limitations.

Design differences between American and Australian Correctional Facilities

Brisbane based Associate Craig Blewitt has recently returned from a study tour of the USA, Mexico, UK and Germany. During the tour, Craig visited correctional and court facilities in the USA, supplier factories and showrooms in the US, Mexico and UK; and attended the ISH trade show in Germany.

Written by Craig Blewitt

I recently had the privilege of being invited to join a correctional study tour through the USA, Mexico, UK and Germany. While there were many highlights along the way, the biggest takeaway for me from the trip was the contrast in design of correctional facilities in the USA – not only with what we do here in Australia – but between individual American facilities that are located within a few hours’ drive of each other.

Despite working in the correctional design space for more than a decade, I have to admit that I left Australia with the preconceived notion of American correctional facilities that you see on TV and in movies. I was both pleasantly surprised and greatly shocked by what I saw.

The two correctional centres I visited in the US were both County Jails – which are essentially the equivalent of Australian remand and reception centres.

In the USA, prisoners remanded into custody are typically housed in a correctional centre operated by the local county. If a prisoner is found guilty, they will generally remain in county run facilities if their sentence is less than 12 months.

With over 3,000 counties across the USA, that results in a vast range of different design and operational approaches for correctional facilities – and the two facilities I visited potentially represent the two extremes in design and operational approach.

Las Colinas Women’s Correctional Centre

Photo Source: Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College

Photo Source: Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College

The Las Colinas Detention and Re-entry Facility has a maximum capacity of 1,270 female prisoners and is the primary county jail for women in San Diego County. Of the two facilities I visited, this was closest to the Australian approach to the design of correctional centres.

The facility has an open campus style masterplan, which de-stresses the external environment within the complex. The main street links key support services and stretches from the Gatehouse to the Multi-Faith building at the rear of the site. The accommodation is arranged in communities of different scales and classifications around the perimeter of the site.

The minimum security accommodation is dormitory style where each prisoner has a cubicle with a bed, desk, wardrobe and TV. Similar accommodation styles have recently been tested in the recent rapid-build facilities in NSW with up to 25 inmates per unit.

At Las Colinas there are up to 60 prisoners in each unit, however, rather than housing them in one large room, the accommodation is separated over two levels to provide zones of privacy within the communal space; with a central double height communal living area in the centre.

Photo Source: KMD Architects

Photo Source: KMD Architects

The materials used within the accommodation buildings are simple, yet through thoughtful selection create a sense of warmth and calmness. The timber grain of the joinery units and doors, variation in colour and texture, provision of natural light, domestic style furniture and the use of large scale landscape imagery converts what could be a stark and institutional environment into a relaxed and welcoming space.

Photo Source: Vanir Construction Management, Inc.

Photo Source: Vanir Construction Management, Inc.

In a departure to the ‘on unit’ dining approach used in Australian facilities, the Los Colinas centre used a large central meal hall with scheduled meal times for each accommodation unit. This approach removes the need for transportation of meals across the site, but conversely requires the movement of prisoners to the meal hall, which may pose larger operational challenges.

While the environment of the meal hall facilitates greater communal interaction between inmates, it conversely removes the rehabilitative benefits of normalising daily routines through self-catering units.

Photo Source: Vanir Construction Management, Inc.

Photo Source: Vanir Construction Management, Inc.

During the tour, we stopped at the on-site coffee shop, which is staffed by prisoners and serves both staff and prisoners. Speaking to the barista, we heard an inspiring story of how the design and opportunities provided within the Los Colinas facility created a rehabilitative environment. She spoke about how the program had changed her life – she came into prison not having finished high school and was going to leave in a few weeks with a hospitality management qualification and a goal of setting up her own coffee shop.

East County Detention Centre

Photo Source: Clark Constructions

Photo Source: Clark Constructions

The East County Detention Centre (ECDC) is a high-density multi-level correctional centre located within the downtown area of Indio, California. The design of the ECDC facility has several substantial differences to what we do in Australia, which made the visit to the nearly complete facility quite an eye-opener.

One of the primary differences in the design at ECDC compared to Australian facilities was the density of the accommodation. Once complete, ECDC will house approximately 1500 prisoners within a 3.75-hectare site – which equates to 25sqm of the site per inmate.

By means of comparison, the Metropolitan Remand & Reception Centre in NSW has approx. 115sqm of site area per prisoner and the Ravenhall Correctional Centre in Victoria has approx. 230sqm per prisoner.

The density of the site is achieved through double bunking of all cells, employing a radial design and increasing the height of the cell blocks to eight levels. The compromise to achieve the density of the site is the provision of limited outdoor space and the removal of access to natural light from internal prisoner spaces.

Each of the accommodation towers has four double storey accommodation units (eight storeys in total), each featuring six accommodation pods with 16 bunk bed cells opening onto a dayroom. Rather than having internal service ducts between cells, or an external catwalk around the outside of the building, the design provides a continuous service corridor around the outside of the building – which means none of the cells has an external window.

As the cells are located around the outside of the building, the dayrooms also have no access to natural light or ventilation. They are dim, stark spaces that rely on overhead artificial lighting. The only access to natural light and natural ventilation provided to prisoners is the few hours per week they are allowed into one of the exercise yards. These ‘yards’ have a high-level glimpse of the sky but are otherwise no different to the dayrooms.

Photo Source: HOK

Photo Source: HOK

The other revelation was the system employed for visits. Rather than having a contact visits hall, or even a series of non-contact visits booths, the centre relies on video conference links between visitor booths located off the main foyer, and screens located in the accommodation dayrooms.

While several Australian jurisdictions exploring the idea of higher density, multi-storey accommodation, the compromises to natural light, outdoor space, programs and visits facilities that were made to achieve the accommodation density at ECDC would be a step backwards from the rehabilitative correctional environments that have been developed across Australia in the last few decades.

* Craig attended the correctional study tour as a guest of AVAC Australia.

About the Author

Craig Blewitt is one of our most experienced correctional architects, managing all correctional and justice projects in our Brisbane Studio and assisting on the large correctional projects managed by our Melbourne Studio.

Brisbane Celebrates 30 years of Guymer Bailey!

You saw how Melbourne celebrated 30 years of Guymer Bailey, now let's see how our Brisbane Studio marked this important milestone.

The Brisbane event was held at Bougainvillea House at Howard Smith Wharves where we enjoyed fantastic views of the city and the Story Bridge as we mingled with more than 120 of our valued clients, consultants and business associates.

Our large GBA #30 sign lit the way in green and guests were welcomed with drinks, delicious canapés and music from Guymer Bailey's own Steve Fisher as part of the Steve and Andre Duo.

The live Sushi Chef kept us fed and entertained throughout the evening with his culinary skills that have been passed down through multiple generations. We were also fortunate to have the artistically talented Pat Giles from our Melbourne studio, who did remarkable caricatures of guests.

Our MC, Gerrard Gosens, shared his inspiring story as a blind Paralympic runner and adventurer and introduced Directors, Phil Jackson and Kavan Applegate, who honoured our founders Tim Guymer and Ralph Bailey in their speech. Phil and Kavan also spoke about their experiences as directors over the last thirteen years and the exciting recent developments that include the launch of Guymer Bailey Interiors and Guymer Bailey Landscape in Melbourne.

Here is a quote of Phil's speech at the event.

"The practice has always been born from a connection between architecture and the place in which it sits, and Tim and Ralph instilled this sense of design responsibility into every project, which we continue on today. Thank you to you both for your knowledge, dedication, and humour. We'd also like to thank Paul who retired as director a year ago, for his contribution to the practice also.

We are so passionate about design that makes a difference in people's lives - sustainable designs that help to rehabilitate and to educate. And with so much of our work being around rehabilitative secure facilities, we are conscious that prevention is always better than a cure. Now more than ever, we are confident in our path forward together with you all as a practice, with a firm belief in the ability of design to provide a positive influence in all our lives."

From all of us here at Guymer Bailey we would like to thank you for your ongoing support, whether you are:

  • A client we love working with

  • A contractor that brings our designs to life

  • A specialist consultant that works through the intricacies with us

  • A hard-working member of our amazing team

  • A partner, family member or friend that supports us on this journey

We've included a gallery of photos from the night below, but also check out our Facebook page for more photos, please feel free to tag yourself!

Melbourne celebrates 30 years of Guymer Bailey!

It’s been a month of celebration here at Guymer Bailey as we mark our 30th anniversary, concluding with two big parties hosted by our Melbourne and Brisbane studios.

The celebrations started in Melbourne with festivities taking place at Mon Bijou on top of the Adelphi Hotel, a fitting venue for a team with a keen interest in “researching roof-top bars” for an upcoming project.

The day began like any other, with meetings, workshops and business continuing as usual. But by the afternoon, the excitement was palpable. As 5.30pm finally rolled around, there was a rush to untangle the lit-up balloons that lined the literal red carpet that lead guests down the laneway and to the entrance of the venue. Soon after, clients, colleagues and guests started to trickle in.

Throughout the evening we enjoyed “Guymer Bailey Green” cocktails as well as delicious finger food, wonderful conversations and an incredibly large, green cake, all by a green-lit swimming pool.

Our MC, Sammy J, comedian and ambassador for the Melbourne studio’s preferred charity, Big Brothers Big Sisters Australia, sprinkled the evening with hilarious words, introduced the directors Kavan and Phil for their speech and entertained us through comedic song.

The night was made even more special for Guymer Bailey as we announced the launch of our Landscape Architecture and Interiors teams in Melbourne, making us an even stronger multi-disciplinary practice across our two studios.

This night was made possible by the strong support provided by our clients and colleagues from inside and outside of the building industry, and of course, our team, who have helped the company grow over the last 30 years.

It was a delight to celebrate this amazing milestone with everyone who has been a part of the Guymer Bailey family, and we sincerely look forward to the next 30 years!

Here’s a quote of Kavan’s speech at the event.

“On behalf of my great mate Phil and I, thank you each for all you do, and for being here tonight to join in celebrating 30 wonderful years. The enormity of Guymer Bailey making it to 30 years has only dawned on me over the last month or two as tonight approached. And, for Phil and I who have both been at Guymer Bailey for 24 of those 30 years it’s both gone in a flash and feels like it’s always been part of our life.

In 1995, when I started at Guymer Bailey we had a team of 16; 13 architectural staff, 1 landscape architect, and 2 admin. It’s incredible now to think we have 73 fabulous team members across our Melbourne and Brisbane studios.

We now have the best team we have ever had, and I genuinely enjoy each day with every individual I get to work with. There is an incredible depth of project leadership with dozens of people that can lead complex projects, supported by a wealth of design and documentation experience.

…To everyone here tonight, thank you for your part in Guymer Bailey’s story. And a special thanks to Vicki for supporting me throughout this GBA journey, and beyond.”
— Kavan Applegate

We’ve included a gallery of photos from the night below, but also check out our Facebook page for more photos, please feel free to tag yourself!

Interior Designer Q&A – Elizabeth Burger

Having to create beautiful and unique interiors day in and day out, we couldn’t help but wonder, where do Interior Designers find their inspiration? We sat down with Guymer Bailey’s Interior Designer, Elizabeth Burger, from our Melbourne studio to find out this and more.

First things first, tell us a bit about yourself…

EB (1).jpg

I’m a recent transplant to Melbourne, having spent the last two years in Perth and most of the years before that in my hometown, New Orleans, Louisiana. I love old buildings, live music, and good food. My most recent design experience was in heritage renovations, but before that, I had experience in corrections, healthcare, and airport redesign.

What do you love most about being an interior designer?

I love having the opportunity to shape the spaces people spend time in. I think a lot of people overlook the psychological effect that interior spaces can have on those who use them. I also really enjoy collaborating with other designers and architects during the creative process.

Who or what inspires your design? Do you have any influences?

I’m inspired by historic architecture, specifically the scale, proportion, and rhythm of historic buildings which I try to apply even to new construction.

Walk us through your design process, how do you create an interior clients love?

I like to start by brainstorming really out there ideas and then reigning myself in from there. I also think it’s important to remind myself that an interior a client loves doesn’t have to be something I love (but it’s always more fun if it is!).

What has been your favourite project to design?

I worked on the renovation/restoration of an 1890’s Gothic Rectory building that had previously had a major renovation in the 1960’s. Peeling back the layers to figure out what was original, along with adapting the space for modern use, was such a fun challenge. The space was also full of amazing antiques and items that had all been abandoned, so I got a few souvenirs too!

What would be your dream design project?

My dream design project would be a major project that combined historic architecture and new construction. Designing a new building that both complements a historic building and also stands alone as a great piece of architecture is something that very few people achieve. Finding that balance in interiors is also difficult, but it’s a challenge that I love.

What is your top interior design tip?

Don’t overthink it. The simplest idea is often the best.

Interior Designer Q&A - Gohta Shiraishi

While you can be forgiven for thinking that interior design is all about aesthetics, the truth is a lot more goes into the planning and designing of an interior. To get a behind the scenes glimpse we sat down with Guymer Bailey’s Senior Interior Designer Gohta Shiraishi from our Melbourne studio to ask him about his design process.

First things first, tell us a bit about yourself...

I’ve always enjoyed being creative, and as a kid, I wanted to be an artist or an inventor. Being naturally inquisitive, I like to connect the dots.

I studied Industrial Design, and upon graduating, I went to work for a small Interior Design firm (Cube Architects) designing bespoke furniture and joinery. Over the years I picked up the Interiors trade and worked on many workplace, education and retail projects before I came to lead the retail design projects at my first firm.

Since then, I’ve worked at a large Australasian scale firm (Warren and Mahoney) for a few years where I further honed my skills, mostly in the retail and education sectors, and now I’m a proud member of Guymer Bailey Interiors.

What do you love most about being an interior designer?

GS (5).jpg

I would say creating a curated and engaging experience in the built environment through good design. All disciplines in our industry have their vital roles to play from the consultant engineers, project managers and of course we can’t forget about the architects! But the role of the Interior Designer is to create the interface between the built environment and human experience.

The whole process of design is thoroughly enjoyable from space planning and user traffic flow strategies and adjacencies, to developing the concept behind the look and feel of a space. It is a gratifying challenge to achieve an aspirational outcome while resolving technical issues and bringing it all together to deliver a project.

Who or what inspires your design? Do you have any influences?

Paul Priestman of Priestman Goode was a strong influence in my early career. His firm is a major player in the spatial design, Aviation and Transport design and industrial design sectors in the UK and one of their standout projects at the time was the redesign of Virgin Airlines Business Class seating.

They developed the clamshell partition system, which is now quite commonplace, but was a revolution in Aviation interiors at the time. What I loved about this design was that it wasn’t only an aesthetically driven outcome. It improved the user experience by improving privacy and also gives the occupant seated behind a fixed wall in which their tray table and TV are mounted too. This makes for a much more pleasing experience for passengers.

I can remember thinking, “Wow, there’s so much more to design than just looks”. Improving user experience through good design that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional is a key driver of my work.

Walk us through your design process, how do you create an interior clients love?

As a designer, it’s essential to respond to the needs of the client by understanding what it is they want to achieve with their space. This ultimately comes down to how they want the users to use the space. A big part of how users engage with a space is how they feel and react to an environment. With the client’s objective in mind, I’ll try and picture myself in the users' shoes and tailor the environment to facilitate a specific reaction from the users.

For example, I have a significant background in the retail banking sector and in those settings customers need to be served in a reassuringly professional environment. A high-quality fitout gives off an air of security and stability but how far you go with this needs to be balanced with the expectations of the clients target demographic.

With the users’ needs and expectations in mind, my initial high-level space planning will focus on the users “journey” through the space. Using the retail banking example again, key initial touch points need to be strategically placed to point the users in the right direction and help them move on to their next touchpoint which will usually be transaction or consultation based. Strategic use of wayfinding and locating concierge staff in the right areas is key to ensuring a smooth and trouble free user experience.

Using another example from another one of my sector backgrounds, workplace projects need to allow a business to operate as effectively and efficiently as possible. So I will consider the needs of the key stakeholders and user groups and design spaces around their requirements. Agile workers need a mix of collaborative spaces when working with their colleagues but will also require more private working areas when focusing on process-oriented tasks. High-level executives often need to have confidential discussions, so adjacency to private and acoustically secure meeting or quiet rooms is crucial.

Once I have established the functional requirements of the space and have an overall floorplan, the next piece of the puzzle is to put together the overall theme and look and feel intent. For commercial retail projects this will often be tied to a brand image, and so the fitout will need to read harmoniously with the branding material in colour, form, texture and overall design language.

For hospitality projects, the space needs to be inviting, relaxing and entertaining at the same time. Much like the cuisine that may be on offer the “ingredients” need to be balanced carefully to be appealing to the palate. Workplace projects need a careful balance of engaging and stimulating settings that are not too distracting, as they need to be conducive to good work and productivity

In summary, make the space work well, and users will have a positive experience. Make the space look great too, and they’ll have a fantastic experience!

What has been your favourite project to design?

My involvement in Tauranga Crossing Shopping Centre has been a key highlight of my career so far, though I’ve found every project has its positives, even the difficult ones as they offer the most beneficial learning experiences.

What would be your dream design project?

I think it’s every designer's dream to have an unlimited project budget haha! But in all seriousness, I would say something that gives back to the community and enriches people's lives. A project that genuinely makes the world a better place would be truly amazing to be a part of.

What is your top interior design tip?

We live in a truly rich and diverse world. Regardless of personal tastes, I believe everything has its place in some way, in some form and somewhere. As a designer, it’s my job to make sure the right things go in the right place and often at the right time. A simple way of looking at it is to meet the project brief.

Interior Designer Q&A – Severina Galvin

With our internal environment playing such a crucial role in our happiness, productivity and wellbeing we sat down with Guymer Bailey’s Senior Interior Designer Severina Galvin from our Brisbane studio to ask her what really goes into creating interiors people love to live, work and learn in.

First things first, tell us a bit about yourself...

Severina Q&A 1.jpg

My interest in the design field began with visual arts exploring painting, printmaking and sculpture initially and then evolving into installation art. Interior design then became the next logical step for me as I was more interested in exploring a person’s interpretation of their environment and how they come to assign meaning to their experience of it.

I graduated from Queensland University of Technology in 2000 with a Bachelor of Built Environment (Interior Design) and Graduate Diploma in Interior Design. I then worked in interiors for a variety of Interior Design and Architectural firms and also Government both in Brisbane and Sydney on projects big and small, which eventually led me to my current passion for sustainable design.

What do you love most about being an interior designer?

Interior design is a collaborative process of a series of ideas, constructs and decisions about function, aspirations, culture, cost, time and carbon among others that have a very tangible built environment outcome. I thoroughly enjoy seeing how this unfolds in its unique way on every project like a puzzle or a maze.

Who or what inspires your design? Do you have any influences?

Influences and inspiration that affect my thinking come from a mix of sources that are mostly sustainability, popular culture and technology based.

Some of these include the ReNew and Sanctuary magazines, Dezeen online, Indesign magazine, Australian Institute of Architects’ EDG newsletter, GBCA publications, newsletters and events, Design Institute of Australia’s Artichoke magazine and Spark newsletter, CSIRO’s publications, blogs and newsletter, Meetup environment and sustainability group’s events, and a host of sustainability vlogs.

Walk us through your design process, how do you create an interior clients love?

My design process begins with getting to know the client, their brief and the project background so that I can understand the main drivers for the project and what really matters to both the client and end users of the interior.

Next, I explore the specific sustainable design possibilities and challenges that can be influenced. A project-specific strategy of ideas then emerges to align the values and drivers of the project with its functional requirements and the desired sustainability outcome. The rest is negotiation and teamwork.

What has been your most favourite project to design?

Rather than having one favourite project, I tend to enjoy bits and pieces from various projects, such as:

  • Incorporating beautiful daylight and sky views in a fitout with no windows through the use of solatubes

  • Achieving just the right “quiet in the zone’ feel at the work pods in a co-shared workspace space

  • The way reflected sunlight shines and sparkles off the mirror splashback tiles in a breakout space

  • Achieving just the right feel of quiet and ‘in the zone’ sense at the work pods in a co-shared workspace space together with the sparkly mirror splashback tiles

  • Reading that violence is down, and staff-inmate relations have improved in a prison project I worked on; and

  • Getting away with specifying only ESD certified wall cladding for a large townhouse development

To name only a few!

What would be your dream design project?

Anything where sustainable outcomes are valued, and we don’t have to demolish what is there to build it new again.

What is your top interior design tip?

Reuse, recycle and reduce of course!

“Should I become a registered architect?”

In each state and territory of Australia, it is a legal requirement that any person using the title ‘architect’ or offering services to the public as an architect, must be registered with the Architects’ Board in that jurisdiction
— Architects Accreditation Council of Australia
Pictured: Kiril Petrov (left) and Patrick Smardon (right)

Pictured: Kiril Petrov (left) and Patrick Smardon (right)

While there are many benefits and career opportunities when progressing from a graduate of architecture to a registered architect, frequent tales of a frightful process that is both long and tedious can be enough to make any graduate think twice.

So to find out what it is really like, we sat down with two of our newest registered architects, Patrick Smardon and Kiril Petrov to find out about their experiences through the process.

Q: What motivated you to take become a registered architect?

Patrick: “It was about finishing what I started when I began architecture at university. Becoming a graduate of architecture did not feel like I had fully achieved what I began, but now becoming registered does have that feeling of completion.”

Kiril: “The biggest motivator was the support Guymer Bailey Architects provided and the Practicing Architecture (PARC) course I attended. This really helped me get through.”

Q: Is the exam process as intensive as they make out?

IMG_0561.JPG

Patrick: The exam is serious, but those of us from the office that undertook it participated in a night course to prepare for it. Having done the preparation, the exam is not as bad as it is made out to be.

Kiril: “There is a lot to read and absorb in a relatively short time. I think this can be very difficult if you have not experienced things first hand. I have been putting the registration off for a while until I felt I have the right kind of experience.”

Q: What do you think are the greatest benefits of being a registered architect?

Patrick: “The pay rise...no…well yes that’s great, but being registered was that next step in my growth for the past two years. Now that I have reached that target I can pick a new target so that I can continue to grow and develop.”

Kiril: “It’s the natural progression and final step to be able to use the title Architect and not have ‘graduate’ next your name anymore.”

Q: What was the most challenging part of the registration process?

K&P 2.jpg

Patrick: “Many people say the interview, but well, mine was mostly talking about myself, and I have no issue talking about myself! I think the most difficult part was waiting for the results. They really know how to make you wait.”

Kiril: ”This will likely differ from person to person. Some find the actual paper quite difficult, while others find the interview very daunting. The written exam was particularly difficult this year. For me, the interview went pretty well.”

Q: What advice would you give those who are contemplating whether or not they want to become a registered architect?

Patrick: “First, do it; and second, undertake a preparation course. I undertook the Practicing Architecture (PARC) course. They do a fantastic job not only preparing you for the exam but preparing you to become a confident architect in day-to-day work life.”

Kiril: “It is vital to be exposed to a variety of projects, contract types and have the opportunity to be involved with a project from conception right to completion of defects. Only then you appreciate the theory and things start to click in terms of real practice.”

Construction Commences on Olympic Village Primary School

Olympic Village Classrooms.jpg

Construction has begun on the Olympic Village Primary School in Heidelberg West, close to Melbourne CBD, after receiving confirmation that funding was allocated in the 2018 state budget for the full realisation of their masterplan. This is incredibly exciting for the community who thought the school was going to close entirely.

The local community, which has a rich history as the location of the athletes’ village for the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games, has become highly disadvantaged since then which is reflected in the school’s enrolment figures which currently stand at 86 students. The school’s facilities have fallen below an acceptable standard in recent years and were assessed by Guymer Bailey Architects to help build the case for the replacement of the school.

With 45% of students coming from non-English speaking backgrounds, 20% of students being Koorie and 10% eligible for additional funding through the Program for Students with Disabilities, social justice was a central theme for this project. It was a strong motivation of Olympic Village Primary School to ensure that those who are the most disadvantaged at home, are not disadvantaged at school.

Building a community for learning

Olympic Village Indoor 03.png

The other present theme that influenced the design of the masterplan was the desire to create a ‘community for learning’. The school is to become a place that encourages students to strive academically and socially. A place where all, no matter their differences, come together to collaborate and learn. Much like the ethos of the Olympics, people coming together and striving to be better. In the architectural language of the project, this transfers into the idea of a village.

Classrooms, the multi-purpose hall, entrance foyer and staff lounge are represented as individual homes to create a sense of place and foster a feeling of security and warmth. These homes open onto internal covered streets that are shared spaces in the design and promote social interaction and collaboration while also allowing for discreet spaces to sit and retreat. These discreet spaces also facilitate the equity and remediation programs for ‘at risk’ students within the school structure.

Olympic Village Outdoor 01.jpg

The educational village is arranged around a village green or village heart which all buildings open onto, creating a focal point and providing legibility to the layout. The scale of the house and street emphasises the human scale, stimulating belonging and comfort within the students.

Creating flexible learning opportunities

Classrooms are clustered in groups of three around a central common space to promote shared teaching options between classes and flexible learning opportunities. All classrooms have the option to be opened up to this common breakout space, but also have doors to allow for separation if a more orderly learning environment is required for a particular class or activity.

Olympic Village Indoor 02.jpg

Each classroom also has an individual discrete outdoor learning area, which can be utilised for larger groups, smaller specialist learning or students who are experiencing frustration and need time away from the class while remaining under the supervision of their teacher.

Ensuring student safety and security

Greater safety and security for students was a key objective addressed through the design of the masterplan. New fencing and one central access point have been proposed to create a safer learning environment where all visitors are required to enter through the administration. A drive through kiss-and-drop-zone will also allow for safer management of school drop off with the new entry providing a strong visual from the street to assist with wayfinding.

To maximise toilet supervision and minimise the potential for bullying, toilets can be accessed from inside during class time and outside during breaks. Passive supervision is also maximised by placing the principal’s office, staff lounge and staff workspace on the eastern side of the building facing into the village heart.

A leading learning environment

The new school will also include a staff centre that is a single shared staff workspace designed to help staff work together in the planning, delivery, assessment and reporting of learning to support teacher development.

A multipurpose space that can be accessed from both inside and outside of school grounds will also be created for school and community use. This versatile space features a kitchen, which will house community programs like the breakfast and homework club.

And last, but certainly not least, a new library located at the centre of the classroom cluster will be built. The library provides a third break out space while also serving as the connection from the discrete classroom courtyards to the north and the village heart to the south.

There is no question that the changes will make a significant impact on the learning opportunities for students at the Olympic Village Primary School and the Heidelberg community at large. Having been involved in the design of the project we’re overjoyed to see construction commence.

Need to design an extension, redevelopment or renovation for your school or education facility? Contact us today on 07 3870 9700 (Brisbane) or 03 8547 5000 (Melbourne). You may also like to view our other education projects.

Changes in playground design

By Rob Waddell

Significant changes have been happening in playground design over the last few years due to greater recognition around the health and cognitive benefits of play, a strong desire to get children active and outside, and modifications to playground safety standards that acknowledge the benefit of graduated challenges which teach children how to manage risk.

Out of all of the changes, we have found three key trends are emerging, and these are influencing the design of playgrounds both nationally and internationally.

1. Unlocking imagination through theming

Photography by Scott Burrows

Photography by Scott Burrows

With the introduction of video games and tablets, there is no question that the way a child plays and interacts with the world has changed.

Twenty years ago outdoor play was a way of life for us; we would disappear for hours on end building forts, riding bikes and playing sports. But now, with so much entertainment and stimulation available indoors, greater incentive to switch from screen time to green time is needed.

This has seen a rise in playground themes to evoke the imaginations of children, allowing spaces to be interpreted and used in a number of different ways to create a unique play experience for each child.

One example of this is the Frew Park Arena Play Structure Guymer Bailey Landscape designed. Built on the grounds where the iconic Milton tennis stadium once stood in Brisbane, its theme ‘deconstruction’ honours the history of the site with play precincts that reflect stadium spaces.

The grandstand is brought to life with large precast concrete panels of varying heights and angles, and it even features a commentary box – a steel-mesh box suspended eight metres above the ground, to offer greater thrill to playground goers.

2. Getting back to nature

Bellbowrie Kindy - 2.jpg

With many children experiencing nature deficit disorder not being able to play in the creek, squish mud in between their fingers and toes, climb trees and get dirty in play, there is a growing demand to create this experience within the playground environment.

This is particularly important for kindy children who benefit from the sensory experience nature play can produce.

From mud pits and water play to sitting on logs around a fire pit, roasting marshmallows for story time, nature play experiences allow children to enjoy the beauty and simplicity of nature, and hopefully inspire a deep love for the outdoors.

The key to nature play is to make it authentic using as many raw materials as possible. There are many plastic replicas available, but they do not create the same experience for children. Nature play areas should also be flexible, allowing for a wide variety of activities, sensory experiences and individual play interpretations – such as logs that can be used for sitting, standing or balancing on.

3. Creating a call to adventure

Photography by Scott Burrows

Photography by Scott Burrows

While as children we were quite adventurous in our play, as a society in recent years we have been more cautious, preventing children from taking the same risks as we did. While these intentions are noble, in that we don’t want children hurt, what we have failed to realise is that we are preventing children from learning key life lessons through play.

Research has proven time and time again that there are significant benefits when children are exposed to risk.

Adventurous or more challenging play allows children to identify their strengths and limitations, manage risk and fear and develop courage and confidence in their abilities – all fundamental life skills that are needed into adulthood.

These findings have resulted in modifications to the Australian playground safety standards that allow playground designs to greater challenge children and expose them to managed risk, where previous standards were inhibiting their form of play.

Challenges at height including climbing walls, nets, ropes, tunnels, barriers, slopes, sliding poles, swings and flying foxes can all create greater playground challenges for children that allow them to get a better sense of risk and themselves. By being more adventurous in playground design while also keeping in mind age and ability, we can provide children with greater life skills.

Does your kindy, school or community playground need an upgrade to create more imaginative and challenging play? Talk to our specialist playground designers today on 07 3870 9700 (Brisbane) or 03 8547 5000 (Melbourne).

About the Author

Rob Waddell is the Principal Landscape Architect at Guymer Bailey Architects. With extensive experience in designing landscape architecture for the community and education sectors, Rob has a proven track record of designing award-winning outdoor areas that capture the hearts and imaginations of children and enrich the experiences of the local community. With a keen interest in exploring the relationship between natural and built environments, Rob develops high-quality design outcomes that prioritise placemaking and people-centred design that works in harmony with the natural environment.

Q&A with our newest Associate, Craig Blewitt

Craig Blewitt.jpg

It is with excitement that we announce that Senior Architect, Craig Blewitt, has recently been promoted to Associate.

Craig is one of our most experienced correctional architects, managing all correctional and justice projects in our Brisbane Studio and assisting on the large correctional projects managed by our Melbourne Studio. He is also the resident “door guru”, assisting with door and hardware scheduling across all of our correctional projects.

Warmly known in the Studios for his love of a good secure lock and a spreadsheet, ability to string together puns, and a passion for rehabilitative design, to celebrate his promotion we thought we would sit down for a chat with Craig to find out what he loves most about architecture and his views on correctional design.

Q: What do you love most about architecture?

I enjoy the collaboration process between architects, landscape architects, interior designers, engineers, consultants, builders and contractors during the design and construction process.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I love witnessing the transition from paper to built form – seeing a project through from concept to completion.

Q: How many years’ experience have you had in the industry?

I’ve been working in the construction industry for over 12 years now, with nearly a decade spent toiling on correctional and justice projects.

Q: Tell us a little about your work in corrections, what makes you specialise in this area?

I kind of just fell into the corrections field. I worked on a project during university, and I haven’t looked back. The more I’ve worked on correctional projects, the more I’ve grown to love the complexity of these projects and the variety of building types. I’ve developed a passion for designing well-considered spaces that promote rehabilitation.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and what do you do when you are not busy designing or jet-setting around?

I don’t have much time away from work at the moment, but the bright side is that I can pretty much recite the Virgin safety demonstration verbatim.

Hopkins Correctional Centre in Ararat. Photography by Scott Burrows

Hopkins Correctional Centre in Ararat. Photography by Scott Burrows

Q: Is there a stand out project you have worked on?

The Hopkins Correctional Centre in Ararat is probably the standout project for me. Partly because it’s the first correctional project that I had a leadership role on, and partly because of the well-publicised contractual issues, that took the challenges of the project to a whole other level.

Q: What has been the most memorable moment of your career?

Being asked by a builder whether they needed to remove the lumps of plaster on a floor slab before installing the flooring. But more seriously, attending the official opening of the Hopkins Correctional Centre, a project that I worked on full-time for close to six years, including relocating to Ararat for two years on site.

Q: Where do you see correctional design heading in the future?

With the prisoner population growing across Australia, it’s vital that the current and future design of prisons have a greater focus on rehabilitation through educational and behavioural programs, the development of work and social skills, and increased opportunities for family connection.

To be truly effective, the rehabilitative programs need to extend beyond the walls of correctional centres to provide post-release facilities that continue to support prisoners in the years immediately following their release when the risk of recidivism is at its highest.

A word from the Directors

Directors.PNG

Having designed many of Australia’s most innovative correctional projects including the $200 million Hopkins Correctional Centre expansion and the multi-award winning $670 million Ravenhall Prison Project, at Guymer Bailey we know the importance of rehabilitative design and the need for secure environments need to be normalised as much as possible, to make the transition out of the prison system is easier.

Craig’s promotion and management of correctional projects is a crucial step in achieving our vision to ‘design a better world’ through rehabilitative correctional design as we work with academic researchers to ensure our design solutions are evidence-based and best-practice.

Why sustainability is needed in schools

Photography by Scott Burrows

Photography by Scott Burrows

By Phil Jackson

With greater demands to decrease costs, and a desire to minimise environmental impact, improve efficiency and increase student learning and performance, schools are starting to recognise the need to become more sustainable.

But with many principals, boards and P&F committees balancing multiple needs, there is often a focus on short-term costs and savings, which can create more resistance around the long-term move towards greater sustainability.

To help you shift your perspective, I’ll explore three reasons why sustainability is needed in schools and how it can give your school and students a greater competitive edge.

1. Improve performance with greater comfort and air quality

Photography by Scott Burrows

Photography by Scott Burrows

While many schools install air-conditioning for the comfort of students and teachers, what most staff members and P&F committees are unaware of is that the quality of air can be dramatically affected. In air-conditioned environments more Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is present in the air, affecting the cognitive ability and learning capability of students in the classroom.

It’s a conundrum, isn’t it? We put students into classrooms and exam rooms that are air-conditioned for their comfort only to create the worst possible air quality for them to perform and compete against other schools in.

The good news is that through sustainable initiatives both the comfort and air quality of classrooms can be improved. While there are times when air-conditioning must be used, there are times when air-conditioning could be minimised through the use of a more effective passive ventilation design (like using louvres) that will allow greater fresh air and breezes through the classroom.

Do measures like this make an impact, you might ask? A study done by the United States Environmental Protection Agency that examined the costs and benefits of green schools for Washington State estimated a 15% reduction in absenteeism and a 5% increase in test scores.

2. Minimise costs and reduce inefficiency

Photography by Scott Burrows

Photography by Scott Burrows

With air-conditioning seen as a necessity, little thought or planning can go into the ongoing cost and maintenance of systems. Energy bills can skyrocket, particularly when there is little education or incentive around minimising air-conditioning use in classrooms.

By linking both passive ventilation methods and air-conditioning to both a smart (automatically switches between passive ventilation, assisted ventilation, or air-conditioning based on settings) and manually controlled system, staff and students can become more conscious of their decision to use air-conditioning within the classroom. The installation of a CO2 monitor (Australian Geographic has a weather system that measures CO2 levels) can also be a valuable teaching tool to show the air quality of each classroom when the air-conditioning is on.

Schools can further encourage more sustainable thinking through the use of incentives, offering a reward to the class who uses air-conditioning the least throughout the term.

A holistic site approach that considers the use of shading, solar power, and LED lighting can also further reduce costs.

3. Boost student engagement with different teaching environments

Photography by Scott Burrows

Photography by Scott Burrows

Photography by Scott Burrows

Photography by Scott Burrows

While children thrive in routine, even their performance can be impacted by working in the same environment all of the time. By creating outdoor classroom environments, teachers and students can venture outside when the weather allows for different learning opportunities.

This not only boosts student engagement, but it also minimises costs of lighting and air-conditioning while providing greater connection to the landscape and better working conditions.

One example of the outdoor classroom idea is the Kimberley College Flexible Learning Area we designed.

Combining adaptable indoor learning spaces with flexible outdoor spaces that are large enough for full class groups, students are given many varied opportunities for interaction, performance, collaboration and connection to nature. The feedback from these outdoor classrooms and others like it have been overwhelmingly positive, with teachers and students both saying they are a pleasure to work in.

Schools that are making sustainability part of their governance are not only reaping the benefits of minimised costs and greater student engagement and performance; they are also addressing one of our greatest social challenges by empowering the next generation to be more environmentally minded.

About the Author

Phil Jackson is a Director of Guymer Bailey Architects and has a passion for sustainable design outcomes and the integration of architecture and landscape. From conception through to construction he ensures the delivery of outstanding projects and satisfied clients through open communication and enthusiasm for every project.

The importance of nature play in childcare

By Rob Waddell

There are many health benefits connected to nature play from cognitive, social and emotional development, to the building of resilience and creativity. But nature play is still not incorporated as much as it should be in childcare playground design.

If you’re yet to incorporate nature play in your childcare centre or kindy play area, here are five reasons why you should reconsider your approach.

1. Unscripted play increases imagination

Bellbowrie Kindy - 1.jpg

Children from a young age can experience a lot of structure to their lives, and while an element of structure and routine is needed for their happiness and wellbeing, too much structure, particularly around play, can stifle creativity.

Without being given prompts or recognisable play equipment, children are able to activate their imaginations, create stories, and be more likely to explore their environment.

At Guymer Bailey Landscape we believe in increasing the opportunities for children to enjoy more unstructured play outdoors and in nature, and were recently given the opportunity to bring this philosophy to life through the design of the new nature play space at Bellbowrie Kindy.

“In a world where children are constantly being told what to do, here was an opportunity to provide an unscripted play space that would foster imagination, creative thinking, and investigation.”
— Pam Niven, Kindergarten Teacher and Coordinator at Bellbowrie Kindy

Our team, in partnership with kindergarten teacher and coordinator, Pam Niven, and in consultation with parents and children at the Bellbowrie Kindy, created a space that consists of a number of features to encourage hours of unscripted play. These include:

Bellbowrie Kindy - 9.jpg
  • A natural watercourse fuelled by a water pump to allow kids to control the flow of water down the creek

  • Mudpits and digging mounds

  • Barefoot garden paths around a forest of natural totem poles

  • Log bridges, balance beams and stepping stones,

  • Scented and flowering native plants

  • Pottery garden

  • Yarning circle centred on a fire pit to introduce to children the indigenous concept of storytelling in an organic way

2. Getting dirty leads to happy exploration

Children need to be active and have the opportunity to run around and be happy playing outside. Worrying about stains and getting dirty only limits their play and can lead to guilt around activities that they find are fun and exciting.

Children who are given the time and opportunity to get dirty and explore, discover their world, and how things work. This exploration boosts their social, physical and creative skills, which can be well worth the extra washing.

3. Challenges teach resilience and risk management

“Children need the opportunity to develop their resilience through challenges”
— Pam Niven, Kindergarten Teacher and Coordinator at Bellbowrie Kindy
Bellbowrie Kindy - 6.jpg

The single-minded focus on injury prevention through risk elimination that the playground industry has had in recent decades, has been found to be detrimental to children by ignoring their need to learn how to manage risk themselves.

Changes to the Australian Standards last year reflected this shifting emphasis and recognised that the downsides of risks should be balanced against the very real benefits of incorporating meaningful graduated challenges for children to explore and test their capacities and limitations.

The Bellbowrie Kindy nature play space embraces this realisation, in the hope that even at the kindergarten age, we can set a course for stronger, better-equipped and more resilient future citizens.

4. Enlivening sensory experiences

Bellbowrie Kindy - 8.jpg

Nature play is a great way to engage all seven senses being sight, smell, touch, hearing, taste, vestibular (sense of balance) and proprioception (sense of body awareness in space). This is incredibly important when you consider sensory play has been proven to support fine and gross motor skills, cognitive growth, problem-solving skills and language and social development.

The design of the Bellbowrie Kindy nature play space has created an environment that enhances and enlivens the children’s sensory experience and importantly, at the same time, provides inclusion and engagement for those experiencing sensory impairment or disability.

5. Creating environmental awareness

Bellbowrie Kindy - 7.jpg
“We want to develop a love of nature that will help carry them through the rest of their lives”
— Pam Niven, Kindergarten Teacher and Coordinator at Bellbowrie Kindy

Perhaps one of the most underrated benefits of nature play is that it can also develop an environmental awareness and appreciation, which can create a concept of stewardship later in life. A legacy worth leaving our children.

Could your kindy or childcare centre benefit from more nature play? Talk to our specialist playground designers today on 07 3870 9700 (Brisbane) or 03 8547 5000 (Melbourne).

About the Author

Rob Waddell is the Principal Landscape Architect at Guymer Bailey Architects. With extensive experience in designing landscape architecture for the community and education sectors, Rob has a proven track record of designing award-winning outdoor areas that capture the hearts and imaginations of children and enrich the experiences of the local community. With a keen interest in exploring the relationship between natural and built environments, Rob develops high-quality design outcomes that prioritise placemaking and people-centred design and work in harmony with the natural environment.

Melbourne Art Show Recap

IMG_0017.jpg

The GBA Melbourne Studio started their own Pop Up Art Show tradition this year, raising much-needed funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS), a not for profit organisation providing one-to-one mentoring programs that respond to the individual needs of young people between 7 and 17 years, particularly those considered to be socially and emotionally isolated across Australia.

The artists featured on the night included many of the Melbourne team, our suppliers and local artists like Jeremy Geddes, best known for his series of photorealistic cosmonaut paintings (a favourite of our director Kavan Applegate), and Olga Finkel, who does impressive felt on canvas artworks.

IMG_0021.jpg

Our top fundraising artist on the night, however, was our own, super talented Patrick Giles who raised a total of $435 and surprised us all with his artwork Guymer Disney Architects, a cartoon representation of the entire Melbourne team.

Throughout the evening guests enjoyed sushi platters, cold meats and cheese platters, quiches, dips and breads, and Krispy Kreme donuts as they meandered through the studio admiring art and eagerly awaiting the raffle prizes to be announced.

Prizes from our generous sponsors ranged from wine, whiskey, jars of honey and burger vouchers, to massage vouchers, gold class movie vouchers, travel vouchers, stationery and craft hampers, hair products and illustrated children’s books.

IMG_9046.jpg

We also held two silent auctions on the night, one for a Royal Mail Hotel voucher (one night’s accommodation for two people and a restaurant voucher) which was purchased by Sarah Downie and another for one of Jeremy Geddes’ artworks which was acquired by John Avramiotis. Over $3,400 was raised on the night with all proceeds going directly to BBBS.

After a fun photo with our novelty Instagram frame picture, guests watched a quick video from BBBS about their foundation, what they do and how Guymer Bailey Architects and our director Kavan has been involved with them for 17 years now.

“Having seen the impact Big Brothers Big Sisters makes in the lives of young people over the years I’ve been involved as a Big Brother, I’m thrilled that we can support this incredible charity through our first Art Show.

Our work in rehabilitative corrections architecture has taught us that while the best correction facilities are essential, they can never be as good as prevention. By providing kids with practical mentoring and the relationships they need, we can do our part in keeping them out of these facilities in the first place. In our eyes, this is another element in designing a better world, and it is why we love and support the work of Big Brothers Big Sisters so much.”
— - Kavan Applegate, Director of Guymer Bailey Architects

We would like to thank the following businesses who donated our fantastic raffle prizes:

  • National Tiles - Wine

  • Benny & Anna's Bees - Jars of organic Melbourne honey and handmade Beeswax Wraps

  • Arc Agency - Voucher for Royal Mail Hotel

  • Autex - $250 gift basket

  • The 3pm Box - 3pm gift box

  • Hair by Danni - $20 gift vouchers

  • Hair by Danni - Hamper of hair products

  • M McMahon - 2 x illustrated children's books

  • Heritage Wall Café - Coffee voucher

  • Prash PT - Group PT voucher

  • Kingspan - 2 x bottles of Jamiesons Irish Whiskey

  • Signature Flooring - Art piece

  • Signature Flooring - Gold class movie tickets x 4

  • Bostik - Stationery/crafts hamper

  • Corporate Traveller - Travel voucher

  • Phat Stacks - $100 gift voucher

Even if you missed the Art Show, you can still donate! Click here to help BBBS facilitate long-term, intensive, one-to-one mentoring programs that provide a safe and supportive space for our next generation.

For more images from our Melbourne Art Show head to our Facebook page.

Brisbane Art Show Recap

IMG_0813.jpg
IMG_0787.jpg

The GBA Brisbane Studio came alive in a burst of colour for our annual Brisbane Pop Up Art Show fundraiser for Hear and Say that was held on LOUD Shirt Day, a national community initiative to raise funds so that children affected by hearing loss can live life loudly.

The annual community event showcased an incredible range of artwork created by the GBA Brisbane team and incredible local artists that included calligraphy, drawings, paintings, prints, photography, collage, glass, jewellery, sculptures and watercolours.

The art, along with live music, cheese and wine and a very special junk jam musical item from the team kept guests entertained as we raised $2,800 on the night for Hear and Say.

Phil Jackson, Director of Guymer Bailey Architects, said the Annual Art show is a proud tradition which has been running for six years.

IMG_0777.jpg
“Hear and Say is a wonderful not-for-profit organisation that assists children and young adults who experience hearing loss. The Annual Art show has been a proud tradition of ours to help raise much-needed funds for Hear and Say, so children and families can continue to get the highest standard of clinical care.”
— Phil Jackson, Director of Guymer Bailey Architects

Jim Green from Hear and Say who attended the event said,

“Hear and Say were delighted to be the beneficiaries of the 2018 Guymer Bailey Art Show. This unique Loud Shirt Day event is now into its sixth year and provides the perfect excuse to get dressed up in your best and brightest to support children who are deaf or hard of hearing. We would like to thank the team at Guymer Bailey and all the artists and attendees whose magnificent support has raised much-needed funds to give the gifts of sound and speech to children with hearing loss.”
— Jim Green, Hear and Say

Of course, a night like this doesn’t happen without some amazing and generous sponsors! We would like to thank the following businesses who donated our fantastic raffle prizes:

  • Corporate Information Systems (CIS) - Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8" with Toshiba 32GB MicroSD card

  • ARCPANEL - Weekend Getaway to Noosa

  • BRITEX - 2 x Premium Broncos tickets to any game and a $150 restaurant card

  • Webforge - Grandfather Solera Rare Tawny Port 20 years

  • Bondor - $100 Dymocks voucher

  • ALSPEC - $100 Indooroopilly voucher

  • CASF Surfaces - $100 BWS voucher

  • POLYFLOR - $100 Myer voucher

  • AWS - $50 Event Cinemas voucher and $50 Restaurant Choice voucher

  • KINGSPAN - $100 Gift voucher

  • ALLEGION - Schlage Sense Deadbolt

  • GWA - Clark Shower Screen Hook and a Pinot Noir

  • mLIGHT - Gourmet food hamper

  • Light and Design Group - Champagne and chocolates

Also, thanks to Zip Water for providing a shiny new Zip Hydro Tap! We can now enjoy sparkling water on tap and were able to provide our guests with a ‘plastic bottle free’ zone.

Even if you missed the Art Show, you can still donate! Click here to help children and young adults who are experiencing hearing loss continue to get the highest standard of clinical care.

For more images from our Brisbane Art Show head to our Facebook page.

Designing California Lane

California Lane is an exciting new laneway precinct that has opened behind popular Brunswick Street in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. The laneway, which is an extension of the Bakery Lane and Winn Lane developments, aptly incorporates retro elements from the nostalgic years of California.

With plans for California Lane started in 2013 by Guymer Bailey Architects, to celebrate the completion of this great new Brisbane addition we thought we would chat with Arthur Apostolos, from the family behind the Lanes, and talk about their vision and the design journey of California Lane.

A-_Photo - 60.jpg

The inspiration

What was the inspiration behind the design of California Lane?

“With California Lane, we wanted to add to our existing laneways that include Bakery Lane and Winn Lane and create a laneway with its own point of difference that would blend the heritage of the existing buildings with the context and history of the laneway.

In this case, the context was that our father owned the California Café, once located at Carroll’s Corner in Brunswick Street. He took it over in 1961 and had it for 45 years. This became the inspiration behind the design and the name of the laneway.”

A-_Photo - 56.jpg

The vision

What is your vision for the laneways?

“The laneways have been designed to represent the greater context of Brisbane, in that it’s a place where you can be yourself. The Valley has always been a place for everyone, rich or poor, successful or not successful, creative or not creative, the Valley has never distinguished between a type of person, and the laneways are the same.

We’re not targeting a specific demographic; anyone can go there who enjoys what’s on offer and what’s on offer is something Brisbane hasn’t had until now, a place where small independent retailers that are Brisbane unique can do business in a distinctively Queensland heritage setting.”

A-_Photo - 54.jpg

The design

California Lane had quite the design evolution from where it started, how has it changed?

“California Lane was originally scheduled for construction at the same time as Bakery Lane; however, it was pushed back as Bakery Lane became quite a large project. As a result, the design naturally evolved over this time.

We moved away from the initial civic culvert and shipping container concept and settled on a traditional structure in the shape of a container to be in line with the 1960s theme. The Valley was in its heyday during the 1950’s, and 1960’s, so we wanted to borrow aspects that captured that era in colours, materials, features and finishes as well as in the tenancies that run down the lane.

The civic culverts that originally featured on one side of the laneway were stripped back to create an alfresco area for tenants, allowing customers to linger and enjoy the nostalgic atmosphere of California Lane with its palm trees, pastel walls and neon signs.”

What is your favourite part of the design?

“My favourite part of the design besides the colours and fresh feel is the fact that California Lane is so narrow. Bakery Lane has a courtyard, Winn Lane is hippy and eclectic, and California Lane is a narrow laneway that connects all the way through to Ann Street, having the potential to be a thoroughfare like a traditional laneway.”

IMG_2049.jpg

The result

Designed to achieve the delicate balance of business and pleasure and provide a haven for pedestrian traffic, the highly anticipated laneway showcases emerging brands and trendy boutiques among exquisite cafes, bars and eateries, to create an ideal spot for dining in style.

As we’re sure you can appreciate, reading about California Lane is one thing, but experiencing it for yourself is quite another. If you live in Brisbane or are due to visit, we encourage you to take a stroll back in time and enjoy the vintage West Coast vibes and fantastic food that California Lane is soon to be known for.

Ravenhall Correctional Centre wins Master Builders Award

Ravenhall Correctional Centre designed by Guymer Bailey Architects and built by John Holland Group won the Master Builders Victoria Excellence in Construction of Commercial Buildings over $80M award at the 2018 Excellence in Construction Awards.

Ravenhall Correctional Centre, which is aiming to become the benchmark for rehabilitative prisons worldwide, is the largest prison in Victoria, currently one of the largest correctional facilities in Australia and the first Public Private Partnership (PPP) prison to be delivered on time.

The Correctional Centre consists of 42 buildings within a secure perimeter wall and a further five buildings external of the wall to cater for other services and government facilities. Buildings include medium-security and transitional accommodation, residential accommodation, medical facilities, reception and visiting areas and industry buildings for trade training.

Director of Guymer Bailey and lead Architect on the project, Kavan Applegate, said, “The Ravenhall Correctional Centre has been four years in the making and a combined effort across our architecture, landscape and interiors teams. Our builders, John Holland Group, have brilliantly executed our drawings to built form, and we extend our congratulations on winning the Master Builders Award.”

Over 63,000 plants were used in the landscaping of the Correctional Centre with multiple sports courts, shelters and external fitness equipment also designed by our landscaping team.

Rob Waddell, Principal Landscape Architect on the project, said, “Access to and interaction with the natural environment positively impacts on human physical, social and cultural needs. The landscape design for Ravenhall seeks to physically and psychologically reconnect prisoners with quality outdoor spaces, which will directly impact on prisoner health and wellbeing, both mental and physical.”

South Coast Correctional Centre Expansion Open and Ready for Inmates

The new 200-bed minimum-security wing at the South Coast Correctional Centre (SCCC), designed by Guymer Bailey Architects, has been opened by the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Justice and inmates have started to be transferred.

The minimum-security wing expansion which has been designed to feel more like a campus than a correctional centre, includes accommodation for inmates, health facilities, staff amenities, a programs building and an industry building.

The new facility is part of the NSW Government’s $3.8 billion infrastructure program to help reduce recidivism rates among offenders through upgraded educational and work programs. With more than 80% of inmates at SCCC enrolled in a trade or other upskilling program, these new facilities will significantly assist with the rehabilitation of offenders.

Allan Pearson, the Senior Architect on the project, said, “The South Coast Correctional Centre expansion has been two and a half years in the making, so it is a great achievement to see the new minimum-security wing open.” 

The stand-alone facility is part of a broader expansion that also includes a 160-bed maximum-security wing that is expected to open at the site next year.