Inspire : Public Works Nov Dec 2013
32 Public Works Professional November-December 2013 URBAN DESIGN STEPS TO SUCCESS An innovative approach to food prevention has given the Victorian country town of Stawell a functional civic sculpture that has won national and state awards for excellence. When picturesque Cato Lake in Stawell, Victoria, overfowed and fooded large parts of the town during heavy stor ms three years ago, residents never imagined that a unique sculptural legacy would arise from the devastation. However, the stars were in alignment for this Northern Grampians Shire town, because just as the council was planning to mitigate for a future food risk, 20 Monash University architecture students began seeking an unusual 'design-make' project on which to apply their skills. Instead of a drab concrete spillway gouging holes in the banks of the lake, the community was given a striking piece of architecture -- a spillway graced by a series of 25m-long steps, made of locally crafted Krause bricks to create different textures, layers and levels. These were melded into the banks of Cato Lake to provide space for sitting, relaxing or fshing. Two timber boardwalks also spanned the spillways, linking a pathway around the lake. The Monash/Stawell Steps were completed in November 2012, and this year received not only a Local Government National Award for Excellence, but also an IPWEA Victoria Award for Excellence. Under the direction of architect and academic Professor Nigel Bertram, the fourth-year architecture students worked on the spillway with their Japanese artist-in-residence Hiroshi Nakao. Council engineers designed the food mitigation solutions and then worked with the students on a functional structure that would not only meet the mitigation need, but also leave the community with an aesthetic legacy. The students were intimately involved in the construction, enabling them to experience the practical application of course work and construction technique, while the laying of brick to match coursework and three-dimensional effects integrated into the design also taught them the methodology of on-site horizontal and vertical measurement. The structure's vertical faces were laid as brick-on- edge in a stack bond to provide the right aesthetic. This relatively weak constr uction method was offset by the increased use of brick ties and reinforcement. Laying all horizontal surfaces with brick-on-edge increased the total quantity of bricks by 40 per cent. Many bricks included three-dimensional pyramid patter ning and this, combined with overlaying, created a tessellated effect. Professor Bertram said that each year Monash Architecture runs a 'design-make' studio, in which students volunteer to design and then make a small built project under the guidance of a visiting architect or artist. ••• Set against a willow tree backdrop, Stawell Steps were designed and constructed by Monash students and provide an engaging public space. Credit: Peter Burnetts Instead of a drab concrete spillway, the community was given a striking piece of architecture.
Public Works Professional Sept - Oct 2013
Public Works Jan Feb 2014