‘Infrastructure’ conjures images of transport systems and highways, water and electric distribution networks, tunnels and bridges: mega feats of engineering that make modern life possible. These engineered projects often lurk just out of consciousness in our day-to-day urban existence; that is, until something goes wrong, immediately thrusting our reliance on the infrastructure in question into focus.
A Gathering Place for the Mount Gambier Community
A new consolidated recreation complex will replace aging aquatics and sporting facilities, bringing multiple community-focused spaces under one roof. Designed by DesignInc Adelaide in collaboration with CO-OP Studio, the hub is inspired by the region’s natural landscape. The design was developed through extensive consultation with representatives from various community and sporting sectors, including school students, service groups, sporting clubs and performing arts groups. Workshops undertaken in the early phase of concept development ensured community needs would be accommodated.
The design flexibility caters to a wide variety of ages and abilities. There is a large aquatic centre with a 25-metre lap pool, learn-to-swim pool, program pool for special-needs groups and children’s splash pad. This is in addition to an upgrade of the existing 50-metre outdoor pool. A gym, shared community rooms and a creche are also configured along the front of the building, with a café in the entry foyer. The rear of the building accommodates six indoor courts with retractable seating that adapts for sporting events, conferences and performances, including trade shows and concerts.
The Mount Gambier landscape has been formed by limestone sinkholes and ancient volcanic events, and these natural focal points have become gathering spaces for the community.Ben Luppino
Senior Assocate, DesignInc Adelaide
Mount Gambier’s natural landscape inspired the conceptual design narrative of the facility. ‘The Mount Gambier landscape has been formed by limestone sinkholes and ancient volcanic events, and these natural focal points have become gathering spaces for the community,’ says DesignInc Senior Associate, Ben Luppino. ‘These features informed both the form and materiality of the complex, celebrating local materials and inspiring a design that aims to become a new gathering space for the community.’
The centre has a long and low profile with a sweeping roof and a generous canopy to the north which will provide shelter from Mount Gambier’s fickle weather for patrons arriving and departing the facility. A central foyer provides access to all spaces and glazing allows natural light to penetrate deep within the large footprint. Corners are curved and softened throughout the interior to create a more organic and free-flowing space, and locally sourced materials such as timber and limestone have warm, tactile qualities.
Building the facility with regional materials will also create a natural connection to its surroundings. The timber structure, instead of a steel solution, aims to utilise locally-sourced timber, and limestone features will be located in primary spaces. Greenery will be introduced throughout, and skylights will bring daylight inside and reduce the need for artificial lighting.
The interstate partnership between DesignInc Adelaide and Melbourne-based CO-OP Studio has established a working relationship that allows for shared expertise. ‘During the bid phase, we felt confident that CO-OP’s expertise in aquatics and sports design coupled with our many relevant experiences would ensure we provided a compelling offering to the City of Mount Gambier. It was also a very neat fit geographically as Mount Gambier is equidistance between Adelaide and Melbourne,’ says Richard Stafford, DesignInc Adelaide, Managing Director.
Mount Gambier is the second most populated city in South Australia and the hub will not only provide benefits for the wellbeing of individuals and the community but will also deliver economic benefits. ‘We know that by investing in regional communities with projects like this we are helping deliver social and economic benefits that will keep our regional communities great places to live and work into the future,’ said Member for Barker Tony Pasin.
Mount Gambier Community and Recreation Hub is expected to be completed in 2022.
It is very important to ensure the facility is ‘sticky’ for it to be economically viable. That is, it needs to offer as many activities and opportunities to as broad a range of constituents as possible. This multi-pronged approach ensures the facility will be a hive of activity, from swimmers churning through laps before sunrise to games of sport, community meetings and concerts finishing late in the evening.Richard Stafford
Director, DesignInc Adelaide
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