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Collingwood Yards has been awarded the Gold Medal in the Architecture – Community & Civic category of the 2021 DRIVENxDESIGN Gov Design Awards.

This award celebrates the design process and product of planning, designing and constructing form, space and ambience that reflect functional, technical, social, and aesthetic considerations. Consideration is also given for material selection, technology, light and shadow.

Our scope of works was secured through an Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) process, acknowledging our long history of completing projects on the same site. This allowed us to be involved in this project right from the commencement of the design, as a member of the Project Control Group; working closely with the key stakeholders including the CAP Board of Directors, providing construction consulting services during the extensive design development phase, right through until planning submissions.

As an independent not-for-profit social enterprise, Collingwood Yards is the first of its kind in Australia; a new contemporary arts precinct emulating internationally successful and self-sufficient social enterprise models. With affordable renting schemes, they protect and support emerging artists and arts organisations that are central to the local community, ensuring that the arts have a place in the inner-city.

Fieldwork’s vision of Collingwood Yards was developed through a study of the urban ecology of Collingwood and in consultation with artists, musicians, curators and indigenous urban planners to understand the needs of contemporary practitioners and organisations.

Collaborating with Collingwood Yards and Fieldwork, the approach to working with the existing fabric was one of minimal intervention. Design strategies were utilised to preserve the sense of discovery and patina of the old buildings, without ossifying them as relics or simply preserving them. The precinct’s design frames and highlights existing banal features, while making new work distinct.

The aim of the design was to ensure that the core operations of the tenancy spaces can be financially self-sustaining at below-market rents. Both the Collingwood Yards site and the organisation structured to run it were designed from the ground up to minimise the cost and complexity of operations.

Respecting its former life as Collingwood Tech School, Fieldwork kept the internal design and finishes of the building as close to original as practical, whilst selectively modernising some areas with splashes of colour.

Inside the Johnston Street building, ceiling cable trays span from end to end of the corridors, with hard plaster walls and timber windows were restored back to their original state, and Marmoleum flooring laid to modernise the common spaces.

Bringing a contemporary touch to the precinct, shopfronts and glazing throughout were replaced and restored, with some areas of glazing being coated in a feature yellow tint.  These were assembled and crafted to identify with the workmanship that would have been produced by the former Tech School.

Contrasting with the distinctive red bricks of the original buildings, the new lift shafts were finished with hand-crafted bricks that graduate from a cool dark tone at ground level up to a light sandy tone at the top.

The Johnston Street linkway is also highlighted as an architectural feature, lined with perforated steel cladding that has a polished, almost mirror-like finish. The reflective tunnel, drawing people in from the street was then completed with two retained brickwork pillars that are coated in gold leaf paint.

Our involvement in this project was just as dedicated and passionate as our client. As part of our continued philanthropic efforts in the arts community, the McCorkell Brown Group partnered with the not-for-profit organisation and have officially been recognised as a key philanthropic partner of Collingwood Yards.

You can read more about the project here.

Image Credits: Tom Ross & Chalk Studio

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