Architecture & Urbanism



Gippsland Performing Arts Centre

Traralgon, VIC

2022



The Gippsland Performing Arts Centre is the centrepiece of the Latrobe Creative Precinct in the Victorian city of Traralgon and the country of the Gurnai / Kurnai. Katsieris Origami are Design Directors for the project having won the architectural competition together with our project partners, Jackson Architecture.

The performing arts are a celebrated part of life in regional Australian cities, the traditional ‘country-theatre’ building often occupying a special place in a region’s collective memory. Our design sought to tap into this deep affinity for performance and community by combining a functional brief for an advanced, contemporary performing arts facility with more abstract ideas linked to place and memory.

A box of trees
The design uses local timber on a mass-scale, fashioning the material into a symbolic form as much as using it in a technical capacity as pure, load-bearing structure. The roof of the main foyer is supported by a set of tree-like columns, manufactured locally from Victorian Ash. The simple form of these tree-columns mimic the timeless figure of a tree found in children’s drawings. Their presence recalls the historic importance of trees and timber manufacturing to the region.

The trees allude to a lost memory; a time of heroic timber structures that once defined the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland. Giant timber trestle bridges, tall viaducts, steep-incline, winch-tramways and stout mining tunnel support props, all constructed of durable timbers, dotted the mountains surrounding this region. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the abundance of strong hardwoods, combined with a deep technical knowledge of the material led to the construction of these impressive but now forgotten timber structures.

A box of red
In contrast to the field of abstract trees in the foyer, the auditorium space is its philosophical other, - a direct material and spatial counterpoint. Where the foyer is defined by a cluster of trees with overlapping branches splintering space, the auditorium is a singular, open, clear volume. Its scale and perimeter envelope of rich, earth-red finishes heighten expectations and create a chromatically-charged immersive effect for audiences. A surrounding braid of creased and folded perimeter wall panels sharpen the acoustic profile of the auditorium by promoting greater variety in the dispersal of sound wave reflections.

Transformation and public realm
Our design also transformed small parts of exising buidings on the site to create a wider public realm; the Latrobe Creative Precinct. Like acupuncture on an urban scale, specific areas of existing buildings were carefully chosen to transform them into space-capturing elements. These changes to existing buildings link together to form a public space that contains a mix of loosely-defined multi-use external spaces. They include: a cave-like informal performance or gathering space created from a modified piece of the existing Library building; and a public digital screen created from one side of the former performing arts centre, opening onto a larger public event space. Concerts, external performances, art-happenings, festivals, markets, exhibitions, community events, open-air cinema and everyday, passive recreation space can all occur in this fluid new zone between old and new.

Architecture can achieve so much more than the fact of its own presence. We hope that in some way, the design of this project captures that special regard and love for performing arts our regions hold dear. We also hope it heralds an emerging, sustainable, mass-timber fabrication expertise in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley and Gippsland regions.


Traditional and Continuing Land
Gunai / Kurnai Country


Client
Latrobe City Council


Area
4,850 m2 (excluding parking basement)


Levels
4


Status
Complete


Project Team
Jackson Architecture & Katsieris Origami:
Architects in Association


Genre
Meta-Modern


Theme
Grove of Trees within Prismatic Volumes


House 4 – Golden Beach Coastal House

Golden Beach, VIC

2021



The alluring romance of the moody eastern Victorian coastline drew our client to purchase this site over twenty years ago.

Situated on a long sand dune and fronting a thick blanket of ti-trees and coastal scrub, the design of this coastal house arose from the site’s environmental and topographic opportunities. Working to a modest construction budget and integrating a variety of mid-century fixtures, fittings, furniture and art works the client had patiently gathered over the years, were further elements to our brief.

From our first visit and survey-notes, we felt the strong coastal winds and the sense of primal, elemental remove of this location. We saw these factors as opportunities for a robust massing with allusions to the rugged, protective coastal dwellings and cabins that originally dotted this remote part of Victoria’s coastline.

The resultant design is a 2-level dwelling with a smaller footprint at ground level than the main upper level. The form and shaping of the upper level massing was designed to capture surrounding coastal scrub views and draw cooling summer breezes into the interior. The two main spaces defining the upper level, a living volume and a bedroom volume, are bi-sected by a thin stair void that acts as a chamber to a thermal pinwheel. In summer time, cool air emenating from the polished concrete floor slab at ground level is drawn up and through the upper level by a thermal pinwheel effect. Casement window panels and louvred windows are strategically sized and oriented to mobilise the thermal pinwheel by capturing even the lightest of cool breezes and maximise the draw of natural cross-ventilation.

The site is within a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) rated area of 29. External façade materials, roofing systems and details were chosen and developed to accord to BAL-29 requirmements.
As a cost-saving measure, the structure of the house minimises the use of steel. The resultant braced plywood, box-beam structural system allowed the maximum possible, structurally-strong enclosure at the lowest possible construction cost.
Finishes throughout are simple and durable, in keeping with the client’s requirements for honest, ‘no-bull’, direct materiality and the equally robust, ‘no-bull’ nature of the location.


Traditional and Coninuing Land Bidewell, Yuin Gunnaikurnai & Moneo (Ngarig) Country

Client
Private


Area
145.0 m2


Levels
2


Status
Complete (Images taken during construction)


Genre
Meta-Modern


Themes
Enviromentally driven volumetric interplay / Victorian south coast ‘soft-brutalism’ 

Junction Place Master Plan

Wodonga, VIC



Junction Place, Wodonga is one of Australia's largest urban redevelopment projects; it was also Katsieris Origami's first major urban design.

The city of Wodonga remains Victoria's fastest growing regional city. As well as planning for its expected future growth, we recognised a unique opportunity for this urban design to act as an agent of wider civic and cultural regeneration.

The site of 108,000 m2 (10.8 Hectares) was a 'brownfield' site; the decommissioned original Wodonga Rail Station and rail maintenance yards located in the centre of the city.

Our urban design proposed a network of new streets, roads and public spaces linking existing urban fabric with newly created development parcels. Five new precincts, each with their distinct character, were created within the urban design.

We incorporated a major new pedestrian promenade along the former rail alignment and this linear public space connected a proposed new public square with the buildings of the former heritage rail precinct. Though we met opposition to this core idea, we were able to successfully advocate for the retention of the rail buildings and wove them into the urban design as signature place-making elements. The iconic red-brick, Victorian-era structures subsequently became the first built transformations within the redevelopment and were renovated into much loved, vibrant hospitality venues with retained rail-industrial character.

We also sought to ensure that increased pedestrian movements passed a full range of commercial, retail and civic uses. To further support our aim of ensuring shops and retail were well seen, exposed to view and accessible, the scale of new streets, roads and public spaces were designed to slow vehicles down as they passed through the development.

Future development parcels were also analysed to confirm their flexibility and adaptability for different commercial yields and uses.

Construction of our Master Plan commenced in 2012 with the strategic re-alignment and widening of Elgin Boulevard followed by the new streets and roads. The construction of the new Junction Place public square and the new public promenade followed. The project continues to be built out according to our urban design and Master Plan.

Its been a fascinating and richly rewarding experince to follow the urban changes over time and see first-hand how citizens and visitors have responded to this ever-evolving piece of Wodonga.


Traditional and Continuing LandWiradjuri, Waveroo & Dhudhuroa Country

Client
Development Victoria,
VicTrack


Area
108 800 m2 (10,8 Hectares)


Status
Ongoing


Genre
Urban Design / Master Plan


Theme
Urban Regeneration / Brownfield Site
/ Heritage

Project Team
Katsieris Orgiami (Urban Design/Master Plan)
Aspect Studio (Landscape Design)


Awards
Victorian Premier’s Design Awards;
Commendation (2016)
Australian National Urban Design Awards; (2017)


House 2: Periscope Townhouse

Yarraville, VIC

2019


Located in the inner-city Melbourne suburb of Yarraville, this modest, two-dwellings-on-a-lot development negotiates the complexities of a small site containing an existing heritage worker’s cottage. Our clients were a multi-genrational family seeking to live in their own houses but on the same site. Their brief to us was to completely refurbish and extend the existing cottage and construct a new, separate townhouse in the backyard.

The small backyard, combined with restrictive overlooking regulations, drove our design response; the motif of house-as-periscope was developed as an analogy. Light and views would be captured up high and reflected down via mirror to the levels of habitation without impacting on the privacy of neighbouring residences.

The cantilevered, ‘pinched-waist’ form of the new dwelling ensured it was tuned to maximise potential view, sun, and ventilation opportunities. Though compact, the 480 m2 site offered the potential for enticing city views and the periscope-like window treatments, wall-voids and reversed,  ‘top-heavy’ massing allowed us to capture these.
A calmness also permeates the interior as the periscope windows allow the admission of diffuse, soft, white filtered light.

Bento space / slippage space
On such a compact site, it was important to ensure the bento-like interior spaces felt larger and more spacious than their physical reality. Narrow, double-height voids created through the ‘slippage’ of upper and lower level geometries were designed to add a dimension of vertical flow through the main volume. Angled walls were introduced in areas to further one’s sense of calm, compact apaces extending out / or up / or around; beyond the confines of their actual boundary as released space.
Both dwellings are further spatially enlivened by a richly planted, pocket courtyard-garden established between them.

Battery / Solar
This project was also our first residential development to incorporate household lithium battery power storage in the designs.
6.4 kW/h household batteries are energised by 5.0 kW solar photovoltaic cell arrays installed on the roofs of both dwellings.
As well as achieving an annual reduction in carbon emissions of around 7,100 Kg/Co2 per dwelling, our clients report that since occupation, electric power bills for both dwellings have been minimal to non-existant.


Traditional and Continuing Land
Wurunjuri Woi Wurrung & Bunurong - Kulin Country


Client
Private


Area
140 m2 New house / 135 m2 Existing house 


Levels
2 (New house) / 1 (Existing house)


Status
Complete (Images shown here taken during construction)


Genre
Meta-Modern


Themes
Cantilevered Volumes / Prismatic Interplay

Monash University School of Biological Sciences

Clayton, VIC



Cinderella Space

This project aimed to design a series of limited, low cost but high-value strategic interventions to an existing, 1970’s era functionally driven School of Biological Sciences building at Monash University’s Clayton campus.

There were three primary interventions: a new entrance and foyer to the building, a new student space in a disused undercroft, and a new garden deck to the rear of the building near a loading dock. Our brief: use design to convert a series of unfriendly existing spaces into welcomming, useable spaces.

From the outset, we were working with piecemeal offcuts of secondary, low utility space clinging to the periphery of an existing, unrelentingly linear building. Yet this linearity became a useful datum for our more shaped interventions placed around it. We began to see the latent value in the three off-cuts of poor space we had to work with.

Entrance Foyer / Tree - A small tree in the vicinity of the new entrance was proposed to be removed to make way for the new entrance however the university accepted our proposal to retain the tree and form a new entry around it. The new entry therefore became one informed by a design proposition; the foyer walls would embrace and protect the tree; the roof would direct rainwater onto a spillway gutter and then fall onto the tree through a strategically positioned spout.

Undercroft / Meeting Room - An under-utilised building undercroft, dark and cluttered, was transformed into a sheltered student space with tables and seating, BBQs, powered workspaces, and bicycle parking. The existing walls and soffit were clad in new skins of aluminum panels designed to reflect light and bring light to the previously gloomy space. What was formerly a tunnel of poor quality space was transformed into a productive, well-utilised student meeting and recreational area.

Timber / Stainless Steel - A new common deck area at the rear of the building was floated over existing tree root zones with minimal impact. Shaped to weave around an existing tree, the deck also incorporated outdoor work-tables and seating allowing staff and students to recharge devices, work and meet amidst a garden setting. The design of the timber deck structure incorporated a play between two materials not often paired together; hardwood timber and polished stainless steel plate. The design of the deck became a game of opposing material interplay; one between the timber of the platform deck and the stainless steel plate forming the continuous, ribbon-like looping balustrades, seating tables and deck fascia that define the deck’s perimeter. 

Traditional and Continuing Land
Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung & Bunerong - Kulin Country


Client
Monash University


Area
550 m2


Levels
2


Status
Complete


Genre
Strategic Interventions


Theme
Site-specific design manouvres


©2022 KATSIERIS ORIGAMI 
Architecture & Urbanism