Zen Architects were engaged in the architect-led design of a new, state-of-the-art EcoCentre – a community centre, designed to promote sustainable building and gardening practices – located within the St Kilda Botanical Gardens.
The design acknowledges the traditional owners of the land, the heritage nature of the site, the existing streetscape and the local community and culture. It provides a contemporary, innovative facility with high-level amenity and the flexibility to meet future demand.
The building is set back from the corner of the site to provide a north facing productive garden that connects with the street and an outdoor gathering space around a Willow Myrtle tree. Internal spaces are accommodated under a soaring louvred roof and arranged around a north facing wintergarden with seasonal open-ability that works to warm and cool the other parts of the building.
The end result is a design that showcases innovative passive solar design, natural ventilation, energy and water conservation, eco-friendly materials and technologies, and promotes public awareness of sustainable building and garden design practices.
Our client, the Shire Council and the Yea Wetlands Trust, required a multi-purpose building that could serve the needs of tourism, education and the community.
The project brief required a versatile design approach that would allow the building to perform as both an information centre for visitors to Yea and an environmental education centre for students.
Situated on the edge of the wetlands, adjacent to the point at which the freeway becomes the main street of Yea, the building’s position allows it to act as a gateway to both the town and wetlands. The outside form of the building responds to the site, appearing as a natural extension of the wetlands without sacrificing visibility.
Externally, the building's broad, sweeping curve is easily visible from the freeway and represents a striking beacon for new visitors to the wetlands. The inner side of the building frames a natural amphitheatre, providing a sanctuary for visitors that is protected from the noise of the road and opens up to the wetlands beyond.
Builder: Darjelyn Constructions
Photographer: Emma Cross
Located on the Bellarine Peninsula, this residential development was designed to suit two “empty nesters” whose changing lifestyle required them to downsize their living arrangements.
One of the key aims of the project was to allow the client to maintain family connections through multi-generational living. Additionally, flexibility was required to allow for future sub-division.
We took a contemporary and refined interpretation to the concept of the beach shack, using an exposed timber structure and timber lining boards to provide for a relaxed lifestyle and greater sense of the natural environment. Consisting of two dwellings set on a single site, the property can be shared to allow for family gatherings. Individually, the planning arrangement provides for private living.
An abundance of natural light + warmth is filtered deep into the building through the use of north facing highlight windows, large volumes and voids from ground floor to first.
The result is two high performance dwellings that provide our clients with a home for the life of the family.
Our client, a boutique graphic design and publishing company located in Carlton, sought to re-purpose an existing building for their new offices. The contemporary design provides an enjoyable and creative working environment while remaining sensitive to the original structure.
We began by stripping the building back to its core elements. The building’s façade was transformed from impermeable fixed glass to open-able glass louvres, allowing natural ventilation with individual occupant control. The street-facing façade was also fitted with an external adjustable sun shade to control solar exposure on a daily and seasonal basis.
The ground floor entry was rejuvenated and made wheelchair accessible while the street edge was revitalised with landscaped features including warm timber and lush gardens. A new floor, containing a kitchen and breakout spaces, meeting rooms and an outdoor rooftop garden, was added to increase amenity.
In order to provide for growth, we implemented improved internal layouts that resulted in both spatial efficiency and flexibility for future changes and expansion.
Builder: Harris HMC Interiors
Photographer: Emma Cross
Our clients were looking to change their brand, culture and service and required a multi-purpose building that could fulfil the spiritual needs of the community in a respectful, non-denominational and celebratory way.
The iconic design utilises the existing 1960’s structure, transforming the building without losing the power and grace of the original form. A new refreshment area, featuring a contemporary café bar and courtyard garden give a more relaxed feel with more integration of services relative to traditional offerings in the area.
Within the main gathering space the intent is to look inwards with minimal materials and distractions. To this space we added a dramatic clerestory that allows light to refract over a sculpted timber ceiling drawing the observer’s attention upwards. Adjoining the stage, a reflective pond provides subtle movement via the refraction of light in moving water creating a meditative effect designed to soothe the observers mind.
The end result is an innovative reimagining of an outdated building into one that offers flexibility in use and unrivalled service integration and convenience.
Located on a small site in Melbourne's Inner North, this project was designed to achieve our client’s aim of sustainable dual-occupancy living in an inner city environment. Part of this ethos was the desire to maximise the liveable space on a small site, while not unreasonably affecting the amenity of neighbouring properties.
The building features two interlocking dwellings that are designed according to environmentally friendly principles of passive solar design and water conservation. A strong focus has been placed throughout on sunlight, privacy and views.
Front and rear dwellings are both provided with northern aspects. The rear dwelling utilises first floor clerestory windows and voids to distribute light and warmth to the ground floor below. Both dwellings include rain-water harvesting for use in gardens and toilets as well as solar hot water and solar power.
The result is two modern, eco-friendly dwellings that create a sense of space on a restricted site without affecting the existing landscape.
Nestled within the contours of the land, the amenities buildings on the Sandringham foreshore provide clear views of the beach and the surrounding coastal vegetation.
The structures are lightweight, reducing embodied energy and ground disturbance at the sensitive foreshore locations. The siting of the buildings improves both safety and accessibility, and allows for uninterrupted sight lines for natural surveillance.
The roof forms are designed to harvest rain water and accommodate solar panels for water and energy conservation. The buildings are also permeable, allowing filtered sunlight and bay breezes into the interior environment.
The crouched, bent forms are a deliberate departure from the rectilinear forms and gable roofs in the area, while materials are drawn from the local environment, including timber walkways and structural framing, steel cladding, and clear roofs with timber batten shading.
Situated in Melbourne's Inner North, this residential development presented a unique challenge: the division of a shared-purchase property into two separate, sustainable homes. To achieve the project outcomes, we utilised the existing land space to design two 3 bedroom houses.
From the street, these dwellings appear to be a single house, integrating seamlessly with the neighbour’s setbacks and general appearance. Raked rooves and attic style first floors allow the building to blend in with the neighbouring houses, displaying an external sensitivity to the existing environment while internally allowing for striking, light filled spaces.
Both homes enjoy a generous northerly aspect, with living areas connecting to private, sun filled gardens. The families have privacy when required, but can connect with each other via shared garden spaces.
Designed according to the principles of “house for life”, both homes give the owners the flexibility to adapt their surroundings in response to change and according to how they live over time.
We were given a unique opportunity to apply passive solar design principles used in the client’s residential project completed a few years earlier to their business premises.
Located on a busy stretch of the Melton Highway, the Brimbank Veterinary Clinic achieves visibility through its large entrance canopy. The canopy also acts as a surface to harvest water, which is then used for the pet washing service adjacent to the entry.
Operable clerestory windows located in and between the consultancy rooms provide an abundance of natural light and warmth while also allowing for the passive ventilation of odours, a priority requirement in any veterinary clinic.
The result is a warm, spacious and highly functional building that allows staff to perform at their best while also providing a pleasurable experience for pets and their owners.
Photographer: Emma Cross
The garden pavilion was a design collaboration with Philip Johnson Landscapes for a display at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. The pavilion was intended to provide a place of calm reflection within one of Philip Johnson’s lush garden displays.
Given the limited size of the site, creative techniques were employed to maximise the perception of space. An angled roof and walls created a forced perspective making the shelter feel more spacious, while mirrors and walls of plants provided an illusion of greater depth in the shallow interior.
Reclaimed materials including timber sleepers, car tyres and cut concrete slabs were used to bring an organic feel to the pavilion while also exemplifying the spirit of recycling and re-use.
Phillip Johnson’s team provided the final touch, integrating the pavilion into a beautifully lush landscape that include ferns, a natural pool and a rooftop garden.