Orange City Council & NetWaste* appointed Arena Design Architects, in collaboration with Shack Design as architects for an Environmental Learning Facility (ELF) to be built on the local Showground. The building is a centre for environmental education and provides a demonstration of the technologies available for more sustainable lifestyles. The brief called for a multi-function Learning Space; exhibition foyer; kitchen facilities; office areas and amenities. Other aspects required sponsorship procurement, labour and technical input from the local TAFE College and significant input from the Orange Show Society and the local aboriginal community.
A simple planning footprint of 3 blocks is arranged linearly along the natural contours in a similar orientation to a series of existing animal sheds adjacent. 3D computer modelling lead to the major Learning Space employing a mono-pitch form rising up to the North with a reversed mono-pitch over the central Exhibition Foyer. Forming this ‘scissor’ arrangement of roofs allowed a north-facing solar array on this section of roof, with an iconic water tank tower as an articulation of this central roof plane. A recycled hardwood structure was combined with internal rammed earth walls and highly insulated exterior walls to address the colder climate in Orange. Northerly roof overhangs; high-level louvres, adjustable shading pergolas, and ‘lightshelves’ reflect natural light into the main space.
An in-situ concrete slab provides thermal lag for colder winter evenings. Cross ventilation is used extensively and ceiling fans were specified to promote further airflow. Other fittings such as a gas-boosted solar hot water system, radiant gas heaters, composting toilets, in-ground water harvesting tanks and a small wetland & permaculture garden demonstrate environmentally friendly technologies appropriate to the region, landscape & climate. The Governor of NSW, Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC, officially opened the building and is an ongoing patron.
The ELF has also received an Australian Government Timber Design Award for Environmental Commitment.
* NetWaste comprises 28 Regional Councils of NSW and has been instrumental in providing cost effective collaborative resource sharing opportunities between these Councils.
ELF Environmental Learning Facility at Orange NSW
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