The Port Melbourne Football Club (PMFC), the oldest sporting club in Australia, was like that person we all know who doesn’t really get the point of social media. Except instead of not understanding ‘Damn Daniel!’, the PMFC was overwhelmed by a wave of younger luxury apartments, cafes, French bakeries and boutique retail outlets; its former building design outdated within a new, rapidly changing environment.
Of course today you wouldn’t think twice about the PMFC struggling to ‘fit in’, considering the grounds now featured on TV advertisements and international cricket games exude a coolness that attracts the young and mobile face of Port Melbourne.
A significant aspect of the K20 Architecture-redesigned PMFC is its salute to the club’s proud 140-year history and the site the facility is located on. Here, the building’s form is an echo of the raw industrial context of the vernacular seen in the local context of Port Melbourne, once Victoria’s industrial centre.
Everything else is a standard of the now, a reflection of K20 Architecture’s recognition that sport and design are intrinsically linked. This journey, however, did not come without its challenges.
“The club required a new 900sqm facility to provide a new administration hub, conference and catering facilities. However expectations were tempered by the limited available budget, a symptom of Government funding grants,” the design team told A&D.
“PMFC anticipated the club house would provide little more than a response to their accommodation needs, whereas their hopes were to see the new premises provide them with a facility that could…hopefully enable the club’s membership base to grow and reconnect it with the new community.”
Not to be deterred, K20 Architecture managed to work around the project’s constraints with the clever use of timber and the design of a structural system that could remain exposed, forming the interior and exterior skin of the building.
Seen internally and externally, timber cladding is used to conceal and reveal the program within, as well as retain the amount of glazing required since budget restraints meant glazing was devoted primarily to the viewing space.
At the same time, standard, locally sourced versions of the material was employed throughout the structure, with local labour employed to skillfully assemble and construct the building with locally available technology.
“The building was constructed out of timber, because of cost effectiveness, ease of construction, local content and local availability of material supply,” K20 Architecture explains.
“We found that incorporating timber in a fluid manner, reflected lines and the site’s context.”
Above: Hyspan LVL was used for the floor system, Radiata Pine for the wall system and Pine Trusses for the roof. The building's bracing walls are framed in structural plywood and are left in a natural state, having only been sanded and stained black.
Below: Locker Group perforated panels are used for durability, aesthetics and acoustic qualities. Photography by Peter Bennetts
Timber is also evident from the street in the form of a universally accessible timber cladded pathway that zigzags its way through the camber of the hillside and connecting to the pavilion entry. The building itself is constructed of two parts that are connected by a pathway that ushers visitors through the building to the sporting precinct beyond.
While the rear of the pavilion reflects the industrious nature of its interior program, housing various amenities, kitchen, stores and cool rooms, the front end of the pavilion, wrapped in Stringy Bark, is shaped around internal social spaces, opening up to give a 180 degree vista of the North Port Oval with floor to ceiling Low-E openable glass windows. Photography by Peter Bennetts.
The interiors are punctuated by a lighting layout and a carpet design that are fractal-like expressions of routes that travel through the building from various entry points. These expressions also reflect the paths a player might take across the playing field during a game of football.
Meanwhile, the ‘V’ form that appears on the East and South elevations was adopted as a subtle reference to the buildings’ purpose as home to the Victoria Football League (VFL). This form was also used to enable the building to lift and rise to secure view lines through the building to connect people with the game.
Sustainability was another guiding factor of the redesign, and had to be integrated within the building’s core DNA. Apart from the structural system, mechanisms were developed by the designers to reduce energy consumption within the program of the building. This included balancing the costs of the glazing system, the specification of the A/C solution and energy consumption. The adopted method was to have the building naturally ventilated and a double-glazed thermally broken glazing solution, developed with glass manufacturer Pilkington, installed.
Low energy light fittings join the extensive use of plywood in place of plasterboard, which was limited to the offices. Further ESD initiatives include:
- Incorporating underground rainwater tanks for toilet cisterns and landscape irrigation
- Solar hot water units
- Exhaust systems with makeup air, low energy and high performing mechanical supply air conditioning systems
- Sustainably sourced material selections, such as modular carpet tiles with 90% post-consumer content backing certified by CRI Green Label Plus
In addition, all healthy trees were retained on site, and low-grade contaminated soil on the site re-used and re-blended to meet clean-fill status. The soil was also relocated to other parts of the site to divert landfill impacts and reduce other associated transport costs.
Designed and delivered for $2,400/sqm, the new PMFC Sporting and Community Facility is seen as a success story by both stakeholders and the community alike. Since its completion, VFL major games are now televised on national television from the PMFC ground, with each match attracting larger crowds.
The new building has also been included in a range of national television advertisements and international cricket games are now played at the grounds. The facility was even selected by a nationally recognised industry leader, Peter Rowlands Catering Group, to be part of its suite of Distinctive Venues.
In recognition of the sustainable design of the project, Port Melbourne Football Club was also awarded Sustainability category winner at the 2015 National Australian Timber Design Awards.
“The future is bright with the hope that this important piece of architecture will support the longevity of the club and ensure that it remains relevant for years to come,” the architects conclude.
Timber Trussed roof and floor structure
Perforated metal sheeting by Locker Group
Structural Floor by Carter Holt Harvey (21mm thick plyflor)
Black Stained Plywood
A grade face plywood by Carter Holt Harvey – Ecoply (various thickness)
Rails & Balustrades
Kingspan insulated panels
Silver Top Ash and Spotted Gum
Ecoply (various thickness)