The Glenroy Community Hub, located in the City of Moreland (now called the City of Merri-bek), provides the community with a welcoming, nature-inspired environment to learn, grow, celebrate and heal. The Hub’s centrepiece is a new contemporary library. Other facilities include Glenroy Memorial Kindergarten, Maternal Child Health Centre, a community health provider, neighbourhood learning facilities and childcare co-located with the library. This project, designed by DesignInc Melbourne, was one of four finalists in the Public Building category of the 2022 Sustainability Awards, and went on to win the prestigious award. Siniat proudly sponsored this category in the 2022 edition of the awards.

We spoke to Kieran Leong from DesignInc to find out more.

Congratulations to you and your team for making the shortlist! Was sustainability always an important consideration in the design of this project?

Absolutely, the holistic sustainability of projects is always the starting point for our projects. Merri-bek City Council’s sustainability leadership is reflected in the outcomes achieved in this project.

What were the unique challenges you had to overcome in this project? 

From a sustainability perspective, Passive House detailing. This is the first Passive House certified community building in Australia. The performance requirements for Passive House are well outside standard construction methodology in Australia. It required a dedicated, integrated, design team working closely with the builder, Building Engineering, to achieve the thermal and airtightness performance required.

We were lucky enough to have the “challenge” of working with diverse stakeholder groups representing the wide range of services the Community Hub provides. Balancing varying priorities and exploring opportunities associated with co-location within a community hub was a rewarding experience.

The Glenroy Community Hub is also the first public building to seek Living Building Challenge Petal certification and Zero energy certification (designed to achieve, and required 12 months of performance for certification). On top of that, it is a “resilient building” that has been designed to provide a place of refuge for the community. It can operate for 7 days without external power and Passive House thermal performance mitigates external extreme temperatures while the mechanical ventilation system filters pollutants (or bushfire smoke) from air.

With it being a Community Hub, there is an inherent focus on people. Was “social sustainability” a consideration in the design? 

At DesignInc, we aim to create healthy buildings that support the holistic wellbeing of users while looking after the wellbeing of our planet.

Our vision for the Glenroy Community Hub was to create a model community building, which connects people, place and nature.

Biophilic design principles and strategies are intrinsic to our design process. The proven benefits of providing connection with nature and natural experiences are provided throughout the Community Hub in a wide variety of ways from internal planting, spatial planning, natural daylight and material palettes.

Sustainability is becoming a strong driver in architecture and the construction industry. Do you think manufacturers are doing enough to deliver sustainable building materials that are also cost-effective to the market?

It is exciting to see a change in manufacturers and suppliers towards higher levels of sustainability as well as an improvement to the baseline of sustainability performance. Suppliers of Passive House associated products are also fulfilling a stronger consultancy role with the ability to support performance and design resolution at a project specific level.

What will winning an Award with a sustainability focus mean for you and your team?

We hope that this project will encourage others to pursue similar sustainability aspirations.

A sustainability award will help to raise awareness of this project along with providing deserved recognition for the team and client stakeholders involved.

Images provided by DesignInc and photographed by Dianna Snape.