Architects Warren and Mahoney have designed the redevelopment of the Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre (NARC), with the construction contract being awarded to Kane Construction.

Work is expected to start later this year and be completed mid-2023, with the new NARC offering indoor and outdoor pools, as well as increased opportunities to participate in health and wellbeing activities through larger and additional programming spaces, and an added warm water pool for exercise and rehabilitation.

The new NARC will be a 6 Star Green Star rated facility: the highest rating possible in the Green Building Council of Australia’s sustainability rating system. 

"Awareness and acknowledgement of the importance of a NARC that reflects these goals was a very important driving force in our tender consideration and will continue to be so for future projects," says Darebin Mayor Lisa Messina.

The design has also been shaped by consultation with the community and the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation.

Warren and Mahoney Associate Principal, Brett Diprose, says an important focus of NARC’s new design has been about keeping the historic and much-loved features of the centre whilst also responding to clear calls in the brief by the City of Darebin – specifically to improve the sustainability credentials of the centre in line with the Council’s Climate Emergency Strategy.

“The new design addresses the Strategy and applies significant effort to prioritise leading sustainability strategies. It aligns with fundamental design considerations that embody the values and identity of Warren and Mahoney as architects that take our role as stewards and custodians of the built environment very seriously.”

“The 6-Star Green Star centre will be the first of its kind in Australia to run completely on electricity, both on site generation and power purchasing agreements, removing the reliance on fossil fuel based, non-renewable gas,” says Diprose.

A large solar panel array on the roof will power the heating of all the leisure water areas, while materials and systems have been specifically selected to minimise the carbon footprint during construction and reduce energy use once operational.

 “The timber structure provides sustainability benefits by capturing carbon dioxide and its renewable and recyclable properties, as well as delivering a low maintenance facility with a warm, welcoming aesthetic,” he says.

Diprose also says that in addition to the environmental considerations was ensuring the new facilities could adequately met the current and changing needs of its community, “That actually increased the quantity and diversity of consultation we were able to achieve,” he says.

Another key design consideration was the relationship between cultural engagement and sustainability, including the stewardship of resources, appropriate engagement with First Nations people and identification of how to acknowledge and celebrate that in a future-forward way; be it through artistic engagement, interior approach or selection of materials and architectural expression.

Image: Supplied