Brett Diprose is a Senior Architect, specialising in sustainable Sports Architecture at Warren and Mahoney. Prior to this, he worked with Peddle Thorp Architects as the head of the Sports Architecture arm, completing a number of high-profile projects in Australia and New Zealand. Brett’s belief is that a stadium or sports facility has the capacity to support and enhance the identity of a city, and it’s a belief he brings out in his work.
“It's the kind of area where you can blend your passion for sport with passion for architecture,” says Brett. “So it's been a very, very unique opportunity in my career. I was lucky to have been given the opportunity to work on a number of significant projects in the very early phases of my career, which put me in front of a lot of people that are passionate about sport and the contribution that sport makes to community life to health and well being.”
He’s passionate about the importance of sport as a binding agent for a cohesive society, and sees the important role architecture has to play in facilitating it. “It’s a touchstone for communities across the planet. So it's not just regional facilities, or elite sport facilities,” says Brett. “I mean, you could go and watch a spectator sport at the MCG with thousands of people, sharing a unifying experience. And then on a Saturday morning, you're supporting your daughter in gymnastics in my case, or a son in basketball. And there’s so many people involved in sport - volunteers, educators, elite trainers and leaders - there's just a fascinating group of people involved in the industry.”
As comes with a specialisation such as Brett’s, he’s developed a highly considered methodology and approach to the specifics of sustainable sports architecture. “I don't know whether we approach it from a different point of view than you would if you were designing a building, for example,” he says. “But we aim to limit our footprint depending on the building typology we’re working with.
“So you could have your stadium work, which is used on weekends, and is more about that event space and experience, and its versatility, and how you utilise that. It's about reducing your energy usage, reducing your upfront carbon footprints very early in the process,” he continues. “Then you've got your large-scale basketball stadiums, you've got indoor venues, outdoor venues, small pavilions. So that's a real challenge. And then you've got high end energy use buildings, like aquatic centres where people train 365 days of the year, seven days a week, and 24 hours a day, which are effectively the most energy hungry buildings you can get.”
A recent project for LaTrobe University is a great case in point. “Because we were able to amalgamate the use of the facility for community use after hours, and yet use the facility for use of the university during business hours, we were able to max out that space. We filled it with natural ventilation, to let the building breeze, and create the unique experience of an indoor venue naturally ventilated with very low energy use. But then enabled it to be closed up, resulting in a very well sealed thermal environment that doesn't need to be heated because the people utilising it as a training venue are generating the heat in that kind of space. So how you balance that is really important.”
It’s fair to say that in addition to this keen and flexible understanding of the need to look at each project individually, Brett’s practice is informed by his awareness of his role as a holder, and communicator, of knowledge. “ I think as architects, previously we could designate a person within an organisation that was the fountain of wisdom. But that’s no longer the case, and we need to be more collaborative than ever. There's now a desire to harness the power of collective action, and to work collaboratively to really understand the nuances of what it takes to actually deliver a great building that is responsive to place, to environment, to an experience of people and patrons and community with urban environments to really make everyone's life better.”