Located on a former chicken farm in Cranbourne South, Victoria, Australia, the Brompton Pavilion is a residential display pavilion quite unlike any other.
An innovative vision initiated by the residential developers Wolfdene, the pavilion arose from close collaboration with Oculus Landscape Architects and Clear Graphic Design. Conceived as a ‘lens to the landscape’, the pavilion is proposed to activate the site and engage the local community. It consists of an experience suite and a café (that will be completed as part of stage 2), the square shaped pavilion is configured around a central grassed courtyard viewing onto a manicured axial field, and frames contrasting views to the surrounding rural fields.
External grey stained timber screens redolent of the scale and colour of the neighbouring chicken sheds enclose the pavilion. Within the screen, the programmatic volumes are nested around the courtyard, with smaller courtyards inhabiting the interstitial spaces within.
Inside the pavilion perimeter, the material palette transforms to the richer warmth of spotted gum decking, soffits and screens, correlating with the more intimate points of interaction.
Colourful accents tied into the Brompton branding colours, activate courtyards and spaces within the pavilion, and emanate through the external screen façade acting as an inviting beacon to the local community.
Questions and Answers
Q. What was the client's brief for the project?
Brompton is a new community being developed by young dynamic developers, Wolfdene.
Previously a chicken farm, this large 90 hectare farm is going to be converted over the next 15 years into a new community with 1500 dwellings.
In a courageous move, rather than spend on traditional marketing, Wolfdene recognised the proximity of their site to the junction of Dandenong Hastings Road, and Cranbourne Frankston Road as a unique opportunity to create an activation pavilion to promote community engagement with the site.
In creating a new community, Wolfdene believed it was paramount to convey a sense of place and to allow the community to understand the atmosphere and ethos of the future development.
They engaged Oculus Landscape architects to create the masterplan. Clear Graphic Design to generate the branding and we were invited to create the activation pavilion. And Craig Tan Architects were privileged to join the team to deliver the pavilion and its interiors.
This Pavilion will be a temporary pavilion for the community, designed for 3-5 years. After which it is intended to be relocated to the centre of the development.
The brief of the project is essentially a display suite, or experience suite, as it is known, and a future cafe, which will form part of stage 2.
These spaces are arranged around a courtyard, to provide a staging place for community activities and events.
Q. What was the inspiration for the design?
Conceived as a lens to the landscape, the pavilion includes an experience suite and future café that seek to choreograph a heightened sense of place.
By strategic use of expressed materiality, courtyards, and integration of branding colours, the design aims to engage the users by activating their senses.
Q. What was the building / land like before the project started?
Prior to the Brompton Pavilion, this rural pasture land was part of a 90 hectare chicken farm.
Shaped like a triangle, the site benefits from close proximity to the junction of Dandenong Hastings Road, and Cranbourne Frankston Road.
Q. What was your solution to the brief and the challenges involved?
Working in close collaboration with Oculus Landscape Architects and Clear Graphic Design, the pavilion is conceived as a ‘lens to the landscape’. Consisting of an experience suite and a café (that will be completed as part of stage 2), the square shaped pavilion is configured around a central grassed courtyard, coined the ‘common’, opening Northwards to connect to the ‘home paddock’, an axial, manicured field that will form the basis of community events. The other facades address the existing rural fields, approach, and children’s play area.
Redolent of the scale and colour of the nearby corrugated metal chicken sheds, the pavilion is enclosed by a perimeter screen defined by a grey stained timber skin of pine fins and plywood.
The porosity of the external perimeter timber skin is modulated at sections to frame views between the different landscapes arranged within and around the pavilion.
Nested within the perimeter screen are the four key volumes of the experience suite, café, toilets, and a covered outdoor seating area which are linked by a covered walkway around the central common. Smaller planted courtyards inhabit the interstitial spaces between these volumes drawing nature deep within the pavilion.
Within the pavilion perimeter, the material palette transforms to the richer warmth of spotted gum decking, soffits and screens, correlating with the more intimate points of interaction.
In counterpoint, the resonant colours of the Brompton branding have been introduced into the building as accented moments within the pavilion. The Southern courtyard is glimpsed through the external screen to the nearby roundabout, providing striking glimpses of a fiery colour gradient. This glows throughout the day and into the evening, providing a visual beacon to the passing traffic.
The entry to the experience suite, is conceived as a tunnel of dappled and variegated light. Stained pine screen walls and ceilings provide a variegated texture and light within the space, choreographing views to the key views and various courtyards whilst also subtly subdividing the space into different zones and levels of intimacy.
The café fitout will be fully completed as part of stage 2 around the middle of 2015, and should activate the Eastern side of the pavilion, providing a further contribution to the new community.
Constructed predominantly from pine studs and plywood, on timber stump foundations, the pavilion was completed in only 4 months, at a good economy based on scale. Designed for disassembly, it is anticipated that the pavilion will be relocated on the site in about 5 years to operate as a key component of the future community town centre, and ensuring a long term sustainable outcome.
Q. What are the truly innovative aspects of this project?
The unique aspect of this pavilion is the holistic ability to interrelate the user’s experience across 3 scales.
At the site level, the external timber skin of the pavilion relates to the scale of the landscape. Within the pavilion, the nested volumes articulate the central courtyard, whilst also creating a series of interstitial courtyards. This theme repeats within the interiors. In the experience suite, slatted timber screens and crafted joinery, created implied zones, whilst framing connections to the exterior. Even the toilets, are articulated as coloured boxes nested within grey spaces, further reinforcing the interrelationship of scales across the project.
Q. What sustainability features does the project have?
Ultimately designed for re-use and relocation within the Brompton residential development, the pavilion was an exercise in low-cost, lightweight timber construction, and creates a cost efficient yet durable structure for the future community. Minimising concrete and steel, and utilising environmentally friendly water based paints and stains, the project attempts to minimise the embodied energy of the structure, and provide an instructional solution for future development.
The implementation of the plywood and spotted gum cladding as a rainscreen through the use of breather membranes and ventilation cavities, ensured superior thermal performance of the building envelope.
Opening to the North, the human scaled covered way and the external timber screen provide solar protection to the larger expanses of glass, maintaining an economic use of glass within the project.
The creation of numerous interstitial courtyards, provides maximal daylight penetration to the spaces, further conserving lighting power during the daytime.
Careful collaboration with the landscape architect was fundamental to ensure the activation of all the surrounding spaces, thereby creating spaces that encourage communal gatherings and activity, and prioritising the strategic use of spaces as an example of ongoing social and cultural sustainability.
Q. How would you describe the clients?
Wolfdene are a young and visionary developer company. Seeing themselves as placemakers, they envisage the creation and development of communities, rather than just residential developments.
With Brompton pavilion, they are to be applauded for their courage and verve in choosing to create an activation pavilion, rather than rely on traditional marketing techniques.
In creating unified communities bound by a sense of place, they realise the importance of a holistic and integrated design. In doing so, they explicitly sought out a collaborative group of landscape architects, graphic designers, and architects to realise an integrated and inclusive vision.
Q. Did the design change much during the design and building process?
As an activation pavilion was such an unorthodox strategy for residential communities in the outer suburbs, there was a lot of consultation in order to develop the brief of the pavilion. Once set however, the design remained relatively fixed.
Originally the building was designed for use with prefabricated timber units, to aid with future relocation of the pavilion. However, due to budget constraints, it was deemed more economical to build the project with traditional timber framing and to strengthen the frame for future relocation.
Q. Has the activation pavilion been successful in promoting interest in the Brompton Residential development?
Yes, it appears that the response to the pavilion has been overwhelmingly positive. Due to the high visibility of the pavilion from the nearby roundabout, the community have been visiting out of curiousity.
Wolfdene have also been running several community events, and this has created strong interest in the new Brompton community.
As it currently stands, the first 4 stages have already sold out in the first 6 months, which represents an outstanding outcome. Given the immense risk the Client took in proposing the pavilion, this is a good reward for their community building ethos.