Drouin Civic Centre
Dale Cohen Architects have been engaged by Baw Baw Shire Council to design & oversee the redevelopment of the Drouin Civic Centre Council Offices, incorporating a four directorate corporate office with media spaces and community group areas. The civic centre redevelopment, utilizing the existing 1970s building skeleton, provides a significant opportunity for a leading sustainable council office complex, enabling Baw Baw Shire to function cohesively between their two municipal hubs, Drouin & Warragul. The existing civic centre sits on a rolling parkland site. The new office re-development aims to engage with the richness of this rolling parkland, and maximize this interface.
Adaptive Re-use: The external walls, roofing and internal program will all be removed, leaving only the existing slab, columns, and significant locally made structural laminated pine beams. Our design gesture of a dynamic undulating mountain roofline – drives the provision for natural light deep into the interior.
The mountain range roofline provides a sense of identity and strengthens branding for the council offices to the nearby Baw Baw ranges. New amplified floor to ceiling heights reduce the need for artificial lighting in the interior & reconnect the building with the community on one side, and the parkland on the other, and vice versa.
The roofing sits on conventional timber trusses for economy, atop the existing significant laminated beams, eliminating the reliance on steel framing. The external material selection enacts a rural vernacular, in a sense, allowing the mountain range roof to appear as floating. This is grounded by ‘earthy’, resilient and low maintenance colorbond cladding to the landscaped perimeter. Internally, the palette is restrained from competing with the recycled laminated beams to richly reflect the rural environs and maximize comfort in the new ‘commercial’ work space. The challenge of the project was to create a civic building meeting the requirements of both public and private functions. Extensive stakeholder engagement processes determined the need for a contemporary office environment that included flexi-spaces, hot desking, biophilic design & open collaborative work spaces. Our design approach was to integrate more fluid, untethered and informal layouts to accommodate the changing roles of staff, creating an environment that supported a variety of working methods and flexibility.
The spatial arrangement was driven by recycling the existing workstation furniture to form the working arrangements. To the outside of these are circulation trails, promoting ease of access between departments for enhanced connection and cooperation.
Hot desking areas allow for a transformative environment, whereby workers can temporarily change a specific space into their own unique ambience. Meeting rooms & manager offices run adjacent to the internal circulation. Staff hubs & informal spaces for ceremonies, presentations, leisure and gatherings have also been built in. A new entrance to the eastern side of the building allows greater provision for public interactions, with the foyer an extension of this. Recreation spaces including the lunchroom and decking is enveloped in the northern landscape.
The buildings Environmental Sustainable Design (ESD) strategy demonstrates council’s commitment, ethos & central role in steering the community towards sustainable futures. To this end, our approach to sustainability is holistic throughout the building; photovoltaic solar panels doubling as sun shading on the north, thermal mass including phase change insulation, orientation and northern aspect to the parklands, double glazing, low maintenance product use, all contribute towards minimizing the demand for energy. The buildings undulating roofline allows the deep penetration of soft south light into the building, and the collection of rainwater for use in the building and gardens offset water consumption.
We have sought to create a highly sustainable office environment that is inspiring, encouraging an immersive environment for nurture and well-being, and an appreciation of the environment beyond, driving councils approach to sustainable futures in the region.