Having being destroyed in the 2009 bushfires, the Marysville Police Station needed to be rebuilt, with the Marysville community wanting the new station to recall the ‘old’ Marysville.

Kerstin Thompson Architects were charged with designing a modern, functional and purpose-built facility where the main entrance needed to be clearly identifiable and easily accessed by the public.

A strong focus on ESD was also incorporated along with a visual exchange between the police and community. Achieving this, the site’s dual frontage was exploited, stringing the most active aspects of the program along the edges to both the main street and the southern edge of the Marysville Heart parkland – a public recreation space at the centre of the town.

Along with the completion of the Marysville Community Centre, the police station concluded the regeneration of Marysville Heart which is an integral part to creating links between people, place and landscape.

Facing certain expectations and aspirations of the community, extensive consultation was required. The new station was pivotal to the re-establishment of the community after the fires and it demanded that the architecture draw upon the character of the township.

Breaking from the traditional brick palette used in police buildings, of which the Victoria Police accepted, timber was used as the main component in the design and building, aligning with the character of the community.

The context and heritage of the site provided much inspiration for the project, shown by the timber battens which screen the building as well as recall the local timber industry.

The station, with its long, low form gently defines the park edge and frames the distant mountains, while a tapered veranda nudges the street, heralding the police presence and maintaining views to the park.

A shading device along the park edge face of the building formed from the timber battens incorporates fire resistance into the design. Additionally, they fulfil required architectural and functional roles as a ‘protective’ device.

Battens on the building are made from silvertop ash as the supplier, Radial Timber, advised it was the only timber suitable for the batten type required by the design.

Additionally, the silvertop ash is inherently resistant to fire and is one of seven hardwood species that has been found suitable by the Building Commission in Victoria for construction in bushfire areas.

The use of timber in the building softens the building’s presence, making it less intrusive and part of the overall landscape.

Kerstin Thompson Architects approached this project as an opportunity to employ a new civic agenda for the police station as a ‘place-maker’ so it could be instrumental in creating links between people, place and landscape.

Silvertop Ash supplied by Radial Timber

Silvertop Ash is an ideal cladding material, of which Radial Timber can supply radially sawn board and batten cladding. It is a unique alternative to traditional horizontal cladding. The vertical cladding is unseasoned and fine sawn.

It is a distinctive timber with many features, including noticeable growth rings, gum veins and pencil streaks, making it great for visual applications.

This species is one of the approved species for use in ‘high fire danger’ areas by the Building Control Commission according to Practice Note No. 46 (Dec 2001). It is also classed as one of the bushfire-resisting timber species in the 2009 Building Regulations and AS3949.

A light brown in colour, silvertop ash is fire resistant to BAL29. Its hardness rating is two on a six class scale and the Burning Splinter Test results in a match-size splinter burning to charcoal with no ash. It is believed this is due to a number of factors such as density and wood structure.

Images: Trevor Mein.