Aqualink Aquatic Centre, Victoria

Market SectorCommunity
CompletionDecember 2013
Project Value$ 25 million
ArchitectWilliams Ross Architects
ClientCity of Whitehorse
ProductHeradesign

Historical well-loved community recreational facility is renewed

It isn't often that you'd think of an industrial site providing a local community with hours of happy and healthy recreational activity however, the Aqualink Aquatic Centre is just a site.

With over 100 years of providing joy and bringing a community together in aquatic activities, the Aqualink Aquatic Centre began life as a clay pit and brickworks. Following the flooding of one of the remaining clay pits after the closure of the brickworks, the area was adopted as a local swimming pool and in the 1930's developed into a formal water recreational site.

In early 2012 the City of Whitehorse commited to the redevelopment of the site to extend and expand its capacity as a general and aquatic recreational facility. The brief to Williams Ross Architects, who have specialised in the area of aquatic and sports facilities design for over 25 years, was specific in terms of a needs analysis of the site.

After comprehensive consultation with the Council and the Community, they created a design that was very much in tune with the concept of connection and community.

"We were creating another chapter in the site's history and we needed to build upon the social and historical connections on site in a way that drew the community together," says Gray Barton, Director, Williams Ross Architects.

"We achieved this through simple planning based upon the user experience and the considered use of glass so that the user can see others enjoying and engaging in their activities."

When it came to specifying materials for the interior of the buildings there were many site-specific elements to consider. The main considerations for the materials used in the pool areas were noise reduction and ability to withstand humidity and chemical use.

In consultation with Knauf, Gray and his team specified Heradesign panels in the main pool area, the warm water therapy pool, the cafe and social areas.

Knauf, who have existing experience with Heradesign's application in aquatic areas in Europe were able to offer advice, not only on the product attributes, but also its ease of installation, which assisted greatly in reducing costs and bringing the project in line with the budget.

"By their nature, aquatic areas, have highly reflective acoustic surfaces such as tiled and painted walls, hard surfaces for easy cleaning and the water itself, which can create an unpleasant noise level," says Gray.

"We were looking for a product that could address these acoustic challenges. In particular, the Heradesign panels were used as an entire ceiling lining in the warm water therapy pool and it has resulted in a very calming and aesthetically pleasing room."

In addition to the practical qualitites offered by Heradesign panels, they also provided an aesthetic quality that worked well with the design.

"The Heradesign panels comes in a range of colours and we chose a palette of natural blue and white, all of which work well in a water facility," says Gray. "The panels also have an even textured finish, giving a tactile quality to the end result and contributing to the overall effect to the design by adding softness to the surfaces and moving away from the concept of the building just being glass and steel."

In addition to the acoustic, aesthetic and humidity resistant qualities of the panels, Heradesign helped address sustainability concerns through its construction from wood wool sourced from sustainable timber, which is protected and bound together with pure magnesite and water.

"Although sustainability wasn't the primary reason we chose to specific Heradesign, because sustainability was a focus for the client and this product helped to meet those aspects of the building as well."

The facility has been in operation since December 2013 and has met with extremely positive feedback from both the community and the council. It is a well-used and well-loved local community facility, enjoying a new lease on life.