Redevelopment concept snags Nathan top Chow:Hill award
02 December 2009
Unitec architecture student Phillip Willis’ redevelopment concept for the former Lion Nathan brewery in Newmarket has won him the top 2009 Chow:Hill Unitec Teaching prize.
Willis’s design was chosen out of concepts by 20 architecture students participating in the 2009 Chow:Hill Unitec Teaching Programme for his use of existing buildings and old materials.
The 12-week studio course has been run by the Newmarket based total design firm at Unitec’s Department of Architecture for the past 10 years.
The programme, initiated by Chow:Hill Managing Director, Anthony Flannery and Unitec’s Head of Architecture, Tony van Raat back in 2000, aims to champion and explore the relationship between professional practice and applied learning.
The students were tasked with designing a new learning commons for Unitec as an integral part of a ‘knowledge precinct’ comprising residential apartments, bars, cafes, shops and office space using the soon to be vacant Lion Nathan brewery site.
Willis, who is in his fourth year of a Bachelor of Architecture at Unitec, says he was very happy with his design and thought he’d done really well but winning the top prize was still a surprise.
“At the end of the day you never know if you are going to win or not and it was great to be acknowledged and appreciated,” he says.
The former brewery site will be left with array of industrial buildings of all ages and sizes and Willis gives extensive consideration and reuse of the buildings in his proposal. The development of the central building 7 packaging hall and warehouse forms the central focus.
His design also includes a railway station and seeks to regenerate Newmarket into an exciting innovative learning environment and strengthen its connection to the city and the domain, which has disconnected over the years by strict brewery strong hold nature of the site and its activity.
“I picked up on a slogan on some old beer crates that said “Make your empties go another round,” a recycling initiative put out by the breweries."
With sustainability in mind, Willis incorporated existing materials such as crates, bricks, and old bottles from the brewery site into his design.
He also transformed the use of buildings and facilities on the site to serve a different function. Silos, vats and pipes will be reused in a multitude of ways included as storage vessels for rainwater collection, light wells and water well. Steel gantries, stairs, ladders and bridges around the site are reused to connect spaces.
“The re-use of building these materials create a sense of the past, a special character to the space and connects the old and the new.”
Willis says another important aspect of his design is how it relates to learning.
The hub is at the centre of the site and the learning spaces are near to other activities like housing, offices, shops and cafes.
“The model of university campuses that are isolated from the rest of life is outdated. International trends are leading towards the creation of integrated, mixed-use ‘knowledge precincts’ and this was something Chow:Hill asked us to pick up on,” says Willis.
“Situating a modern learning commons in the midst of all these other activities means students can mingle with people in the real world and thus relate what they are learning with the rest of life,” he says.
“Mixing it all up and making it learning an integrated part of the space parallels the way we learnt while doing the studio with Chow Hill,” says Willis.
“By meeting at the Chow Hill offices, going on real site visits and meeting real clients, our learning has been outside of Unitec, it’s like the project was the practice,” he says.