Guymer Bailey Landscape

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.

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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.

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!

Construction Commences on Olympic Village Primary School

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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:

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  • 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
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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

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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

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“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.

Brisbane Art Show Recap

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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.

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“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.

RAVENHALL PRISON NAMED AUSTRALIA’S BEST INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECT

Victoria’s $670 million Ravenhall Prison Project has been named as Australia’s best infrastructure project at Infrastructure Partnerships Australia’s National Infrastructure Awards.

Ravenhall Prison - Original concept design

“It is exciting to see the Ravenhall Prison Project win the Project of the Year Award as it is the first privately delivered prison project Victoria has seen in about 20 years – delivered on-budget and on-time”
— IPA Chief Executive Adrian Dwyer.

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“The Ravenhall Prison Project fundamentally transforms the way that support is provided to people in the justice system in Victoria.

“In a Victorian first, the proponents will oversee all elements of the prison’s operations, including custodial services, with performance targets to directly reduce the rate of recidivism.

“Australia is a world leader in bringing together the public and private sectors through Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) to deliver better outcomes for the community.

“The Ravenhall Prison Project is a stellar example of the evolution of the PPP model in Australia and shows what can be achieved when the public and private sectors collaborate to achieve good outcomes.

“I pass on my congratulations to the winners of the Project of the Year Award tonight,” Mr Dwyer said.

Transitions Hub Courtyard

Community 4 

Cell Building Day Room

Internal recreation space


The National Infrastructure Awards are convened by Infrastructure Partnerships Australia each year, recognising excellence in public administration and business, across major projects. The Project of the Year is the most prestigious of the Awards.