Back story_

A scrapbook of projects that stand out from working with design practices, governments and universities around Australia.

NSW Architects Registration Board


Sydney Architecture Festival is held annually on the first weekend in October (which coincides with World Architecture Day…and a public holiday Monday in NSW). It seeks to bring architecture and design out of the boardrooms and studios to those who experience it first hand. 

Statutory authorities tend to respond slowly to change. If they’re not thinking 10 years ahead, they’re probably 10 years behind. In design, we know the best practices are research-based. So can an authority be research-based too? We’ve tried to be. A few publications represent our early move in to research to lead the change we know we need.

Change. Architecture. Discuss. 

Measuring up: innovation and the value-add of architecture 

In 2015, the Board worked with the School of Architecture, and the School of Business at UTS to develop Australia’s first ever research on the value-add of architecture to the innovation economy. The idea was to make visible the intangible (or intrinsic) value of the design process beyond the finished form of the building itself. The logic is that as architects work with contractors to push technologies and skillsets on site, they’re lifting trades up the value chain. The favourite example is Renzo’s Wintergardens on Aurora Place, which gave birth to a custom glass louvre that went on to become a standard inventory item for Hunter Douglas. And because all research needs some headline figures, we got those too, including;

  • The architectural sector is structurally under-valued by around 15% or $1bn annually.
  • Architectural tourism in Australia is valued at around $827m
  • The Chau Chak Wing at UTS generates around $46m each year in value thanks to local spend from tourists coming to see this innovative building.
  • Real value gets generated when cities develop great precincts. ‘Bundling’ great buildings, spaces and places – like Sydney’s Central Park, a university campus or Green Square – attracts more visitors than a single icon alone.

Stretton Centre, Adelaide

A new kind of innovation lab that brings researchers and designers together with policymakers and industry to help transition South Australia’s manufacturing industries to the new, emerging economy. Based in Adelaide’s northern suburbs, the Stretton Centre was a collaboration between the Australian Government, the University of Adelaide and the City of Playford. Design team was led by HASSELL.


CRC for Low Carbon Living – a mass collaboration strategy

How do you bring together more than 150 people from local and state government, university researcher, and multi disciplinary practice for [sustained] mass collaboration? Working with Collabforge, we designed two days of knowledge exchange and workshops based on the tools and techniques used to design sic-fi narratives. Beyond the idea of the two days, it was intended to set a common ‘standard’ for the CRC network more generally. Collabforge speak about the design of the event here.

We also worked with Pure and Applied to ensure the day was documented to generate the content needed for a new website and graphic identity courtesy of Jinga Design.

All of this is part of lifting what you might call the strategic communication capability and collaboration strategy we hope will continue to power the CRC for Low Carbon Living.


Committee for Adelaide

In 2013, the Committee for Adelaide joined the ranks of similar groups in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth – bringing together people from all walks of life to play a role in city governance beyond politics. As a not for profit, a-political alliance of private sector, non-government organisations and high performing individuals, the Committee is evidence-based so it’s beyond ideology. It’s self-funded, so it’s independent. Because of who’s involved, and how it works, C4A can ask a different kind of question – more likely to result in a different kind of answer.

_Earning our place in a global economy

This work distilled 19,000 words and 97 separate citations in to a brief ‘launch’ document on the challenges and opportunities for Adelaide, and the need to build strategies to boost people, enterprise and capital we need for the growth we all want.

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 1.50.38 pm











_Agenda for Growth

This second publication sought to shift the language Adelaide uses when thinking about growth & development – often feared as a dissent in to a sub optimal future, Agenda for Growth offers a case for change; and a fresh vocabulary around smart growth, smart reform and smart investment. The full publication is here.

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 2.03.34 pm











Integrated Design Commission SA

_Integrated Design Strategy for Inner Adelaide

Conceived as a national urban pilot to explore the potential of design-based methods as a more effective way to synthesize the tsunami of information, data and evidence we have on making cities work, the project went by the more user-friendly title of 5000+. It was a collaboration between the 3 levels of government in Australia (eight Councils, four agencies of the state government of South Australia, and the Australian government), but also with over 70 peak bodies and community groups, university research and built environment professionals. screenshot

It’s real success was the people it brought out in to the open, and those it brought together. For 18 months, the project operated as a [reasonably] open platform for those interested in airing the dangerous and the desirable and balancing evidence with experience; expert with everybody else.

It was also a chance to work with a small team of clever, committed design-thinkers. It seems everyone ‘got’ the project more than its primary sponsor – government. Elements of the project live on in a series of announcements made the year after the project formally finished.

It was an exercise in mass engagement, using traditional and online media to talk directly to people about what makes a great place, and how that might shape the future planning of Adelaide’s inner metro communities.

Liveable city workshop IMGP6447

_Design South Australia

Working with Voice design to publish the first in a series of annual compendiums showcasing local design excellence in South Australia. 2000 copies were published by Wakefield Press as an artefact to be used as a state gift and a resource for government seeking to promote design as part of the state identity.

Graphic design: Voice design
Longview’s The Piece & Yalumba’s Tasting Room by Grieve Gillett
























_Zero CarbonChallenge

Australia’s first public design competition to deliver a nett zero carbon house through collaboration between architects, builders and students, and completed in mid 2013 by TS4 Sustainable Living. The Challenge kickstarted a few small enterprises to build demonstration homes, and secure contracts that are now underway. Check out Good house as an example.

The public competition attracted media interest; allowing the project to act as a real-world platform for discussion on energy efficiency, local material suppliers and industry innovation; under the objective of ‘low bills living’.

TS4 Sustainable Living
TS4 Sustainable Living










HASSELL, Adelaide (2005-2010)

_Hawke Building, University of South Australia (in assoc with John Wardle Architects)

Chancellery building, gallery and home to the Anne & Gordon Samstag Art Museum and Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Library as well as teaching and event space for the University of South Australia.

Pic credit: Trevor Mein




















_Adelaide Festival Centre for the South Australian government

A small scale upgrade of the Dunstan Playhouse coincided with its 35th year since completion. This gave us a chance to design & stage an exhibition celebrating the intriguing life of the Festival Centre that started as a very different project on a very different site. A project that was really a research thesis in to the Hassell archives, exploring the chronology of the project at a time when unionised labour, professional services and politics was changing.

Pic credit: Sam Noonan









_Adelaide Zoo Entrance Precinct for Zoos SA

The first new entrance to the Adelaide Zoo for over 100 years as part of works to prepare the Zoo for the arrival of new Giant Panda bears. The big move was to provide around 2000sqm of public space at the threshold to the new entrance and create activity, landscape and public pathways through this space outside of Zoo hours.

Function, administration, new cafes, retail and ticketing is clustered around a series of connected open spaces, green walls and free exhibition and education facilities.

A project designed around the Zoos 4 key themes of education, research, conservation and environment.

Pic credit: Peter Bennetts
Pic Credit: Sam Noonan


Adelaide Zoo









































_Charles Darwin University Chancellery

A new home for University Vice Chancellor and senior executive team, administration and University Council. A new art museum for Charles Darwin’s impressive works on paper and indigenous art and craft.

Pic credit: Brett Boardman









Johnson Pilton Walker (2003-2005)

_Westpac Place (Sussex Street), Sydney with Leighton Contractors

Around 90,000sqm of new office space on a whole city block redeveloped as public space and the home of large Australian bank, Westpac.






















Lahz Nimmo Architects (1997-2003)

_Seymour Theatre Centre Masterplan & Foyer Upgrade for the University of Sydney

The original Seymour Theatre was by Allen Jack & Cottier, opened in 1975. Internal refurbishment to the foyers, box office and amenities was an exercise in the strategic use of small budgets and celebrating the original material use, colours and flamboyant 70’s signage.

Pic credit: Brett Boardman














_”Look of the Public Domain”, Homebush Bay for the Olympic Co-ordination Authority

The “look” of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games was a set of temporary installations that needed to house functions like wayfinding, crowd control and supervision, lighting and communication to volunteers and Games organizers. The ‘kit of parts’ was based on a set of tower structures recalling beach culture.

Pic credit: Brett Boardman













_Remodelling of St. James Station Environs for the City of Sydney

An interwar toilet block in Hyde Park (North) became a pavilion cafe at the head of Market St, over the entrance to the St James railway station


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