Guymer Bailey Landscape

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.

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!

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

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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.

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

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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 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.

GUYMER BAILEY TAKE ON THE RIVER TO ROOFTOP CHALLENGE

Congratulations to the girls from Guymer Bailey Brisbane who took on the River to Rooftop challenge on Friday. 

Team Guymer Bailey after conquering the 1040 step climb

ABOUT RIVER TO ROOFTOP
River to Rooftop is a great opportunity to have fun and get fit whilst raising awareness and to help make a difference for women and kids experiencing domestic violence. Women's Legal Service helps mothers and their kids to secure safer futures. They provide free services providing practical legal tools to help women living with domestic violence and each year aid more than 11,000 women and with them, over 17,000 children.  

In one week the team raised just under $800 - and there is still time to donate. Simply click on the button below to be taken to the Guymer Bailey fundraising page. 

MARY CAIRNCROSS | REALISING OUR VISION

MARY CAIRNCROSS | REALISING OUR VISION

We are looking back on our original concept for the redevelopment of the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve Discovery Centre. 

CYCLE OF GIVING 2018

Raising fund for medical research, yesterday cyclists from Guymer Bailey Architects took part in the annual Cycle of Giving charity ride.

Passionate about supporting the community that supports us, and fostering a culture of sustainability and philanthropy through our organisation, Guymer Bailey supports many charities and community events throughout the year.

Team Guymer Bailey cycling towards the finish line

Team Guymer Bailey cycling towards the finish line

Pictured above, cyclists from Guymer Bailey Architects took part in the annual Cycle of Giving ride (100km), to raise funds for organ transplant research and awareness for organ donation.

At any one time, there are about 1500 Australians waiting for an organ or tissue donation to save their lives. Without medical research finding better ways to source, match and transplant organs, this list is only going to get bigger. The money that is raised for the 2018 Cycle of Giving goes towards key research organ transplant projects at The Prince Charles Hospital.

This was the fifth year that Guymer Bailey took part in the cycle - a cause very close to our hearts as we have seen first hand how Organ Donation can transform a persons life. 

Although the cycle is over, we will still be fundraising for the next couple of weeks, with every dollar making a difference. 


To find out more about the medical research at The Prince Charles Hospital - https://www.cycleofgiving.org.au/champion/2018/page?articleid=170

To find out more about Organ and Tissue Donation in Australia - https://register.donatelife.gov.au/

To learn more about the charities Guymer Bailey supports - https://www.guymerbailey.com.au/corporate-responsibility