Environmental Education Awareness Centre

Environmental Education Awareness Centre

Cultural Centres
Fraser Avenue, Kings Park WA, Australia - Build completed in 2012
D-Max Photography

Kings Park Environmental Education Awareness Centre

With Architecture Studio as Architects

A new building in Kings Park is an important commission. This is our fourth structure in Perth’s most treasured public park. As part of the Naturescape precinct the Kings Park Education Awareness facility is an environmental awareness centre and home base for the educational programmes run by the Botanic Parks and Gardens Authority. While the building is intended primarily for primary school programmes it is also used for public presentations and functions.

Kings Park Environment Education Awareness Centre

Kings Park Education building is part of the Naturescape precinct, a unique nature based adventure playground for children. The Education building is the home base for the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority’s (BGPA) environmental awareness programme that is focused on fostering wider community understanding and appreciation of the natural environment, and on the benefits of renewable energy (supplied via a photovoltaic array) and sustainable design.

The project’s key design drivers were the utilization of solar power and the reduction of energy consumption, the featuring of indigenous flora, and thoughtful architecture that would enhance the learning experience of visitors.

As this facility mostly caters to specific excursions devised for primary school children, the building does not need to be overtly identifiable. Taking advantage of this condition, the design strategy to submerge the structure into the landscape has several benefits. For visitors, the long entry ramp descending into the earth between concrete walls beckons a different experience. On arriving at a covered terrace, set between the two volumes that contain the atelier and the administration wing, visitors are immediately reintroduced back into the landscape; the project’s main protagonist.

Folding together the building and its site enabled an earth roof, and by re-vegetating the entire area with natural flora the design prioritises a direct relationship between people, their accommodation and the natural environment.

This relationship is further reinforced by the continuous, full-height double-glazed façade that affords a panoramic view of the enveloping landscape. The green roof also contributes to the building’s thermal performance; an effective insulator that helps reduce heat-gain during summer and retain warmth during the cooler months.

Well-considered orientation furthers the building’s environmental performance, and the project’s sustainability agenda is augmented by the integration of low-voltage lighting, full-height double-glazing which utilizes the benefits of daylight and thermal mass, cross ventilation for fresh air and cooling, and solar water heating. Recycled, low emission, biodegradable materials are combined to maintain a healthy, comfortable and attractive interior.

Pam Gaunt has created some engaging pieces, all themed on local flora and most use renewable energy as a light source.

Artworks, fully integrated into the architecture, are a significant feature of the design. Pam Gaunt has created some engaging pieces, all themed on local flora and most use renewable energy as a light source. The centerpiece is an illuminated column embed with LED light strips that calibrate in real-time the energy being consumed by the building’s users. This interactive work is simultaneously entertaining and didactic. Softly glowing floor pieces, each back-lit with a thin sheet of flat-light, offer a window into the intricate and attractive root-structures of the more iconic plants that can be found on the site, and her graphic inspired wall-works are derived from their seeds.

The Solar Array provides a renewable energy solution to offset a portion of the electrical energy available from the public grid network.

The unity of integrated artworks, the environmental and social programs, and expressive architecture signals our interest in a contemporary design discourse aimed at an eco-aesthetics, exploring what this might mean in the 21st century.

Photovoltaic Panel Solar Array

The Solar Array provides a renewable energy solution to offset a portion of the electrical energy available from the public grid network.

The facility’s maximum electrical demand is around 52kW (52,000 watts). Of this, approximately 32kW is mechanical services (air conditioning), the remaining 20kW is for general light and power. These are ‘design’ figures and the actual operation and occupancy of the building has an impact upon the electrical energy consumed.

For example, 50% of the building is occupied as an office/administration area with the remaining 50% forming an education and training area. It is unlikely that 100% of the facility will be occupied at the same time, therefore the actual energy consumption is likely to be less than the design requirements.

From preliminary meter readings the mechanical services electrical usage was approximately 4,600 kilowatt-hours and the general lighting and power was approximately 4,500 kilowatt-hours, resulting in a total facility energy consumption of approximately 9,100 kilowatt-hours. At the same time, the Solar Array produced approximately 6,800 kilowatt-hours, equating to approximately 75% of the energy consumed by the facility being produced by the Solar Array. Other ‘spot checks’ of the electrical energy being consumed and/or produced, indicate that an average of between 70 and 75% of the energy consumed is being produced by the Solar Array system.

Project team
Structural Engineer
Civil Engineer
Landscape Architect
Quantity Surveyor
Electrical / Mechanical
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