Alexandria Basketball Centre in Perry Park

Simple Game

City of Sydney

Perry Park is a hidden gem; a public green space within an industrial hardstand area.  Crucial to the design is that Perry Park is maintained first and foremost as a public park, particularly in light of the future development of the Green Square Town Centre nearby.

It has a unique charm.  Its character as a ‘walled garden’, with an open centre and ‘gardenesque’ planted edge, is something to be retained and built upon, not re-designed.  New uses that provide more opportunities and choice are to be layered over the existing infrastructure.  Public park use will extend over the synthetic turf sporting field when not in gae mode.

The realisation of an outstanding 6 court multi-purpose indoor sports centre and associated facilities lies in the simplicity of the solution.  The volume required for such a centre creates an imposing internal space by its very nature.  The challenge lies in establishing a successful relationship with the park and the street; an integrated urban design and landscape solution.Within and across the park, the intention is to use the building’s length as a backdrop to the mature trees and playing field.  The building mass is inescapably large for a small park and is not to be denied; its treatment as an element in the park is to be celebrated and connected to the greater park.  The upper level of the sports centre is light-weight construction of double skin of ventilated polycarbonate sheeting which is animated with a subtle graphic that could easily become a public work of integrated public art.  The most prominent part of the built edge contributes to the park.

By creating 2 levels within the sports centre, both Maddox Street and Perry Park benefit from a direct connection to the activities of the centre.  4 general courts at a slightly elevated level to the playing field have direct visual and physical access to the outside.  Slightly raising the external concourse level between the building and the playing field allows integrated seating overlooking the field and a stronger dialogue between the indoor and outdoor uses.  The design approach melds the various sporting and ancillary functions, landscape and park, into a cohesive response.

The 2 event courts at the lower Maddox Street level provide the building with a street presence as well as activating the streetscape with the ability to enter the administration as well as see into the event courts.  The prominence of the sport centre on the street is an appropriate gesture for a public building.  It announces it place as a public building and is easily understood as such in a predominantly industrial area.  A wide stair and ramps rise up beside the centre to the concourse level with a resulting view of Perry Park, the playing field and edge of the sports centre.  The cafe is located on the concourse at park with extensive views.  As more of the industrial sites are adaptively reused, amenities such as the cafe will be in demand.

Timber lining of the sports centre will provide a cost effective and durable hall with atmosphere and warmth as well as be used for acoustic treatment.

The building orientation and design supports natural ventilation and passive solar access, and PV panels are provided on the roof to generate energy for use in building and park.

Revitalisation of the park, not re-invention will provide best value for money.  Existing landscape features are retained where possible, and provide the structure to new park overlays.  Well considered landscape and architectural design that minimises excavation and fill, and the incorporation of the hockey/ soccer facilities into the multipurpose facility rather than as a stand-alone building, are key to reducing project costs.  All materials are chosen to be robust, with good longevity, and minimal on-going maintenance costs.

Ensuring a carbon neutral facility cannot be achieved by only installing roof mounted PV arrays.  In order to achieve carbon neutrality, the facility itself will need to be a low carbon development consuming very low levels of energy.  This will be achieved by relying on effective natural ventilation for the internal courts, effective day-lighting of interior spaces and control systems which will limit the use of lighting to only when it is required.

Passive design options have been addressed by developing a design which provides an abundant of day-lighting with reduced thermal load.  This has been achieved by providing the polycarbonate sheeting to the upper levels of the court walls providing access to daylight deep into the court spaces.  Passive cross flow ventilation is achieved by operable louvres at low level and high levels allowing rising heat to be removed by buoyancy or cross breezes.  Particular emphasis has been provided to passive shading the intense solar gain from the western summer sun.

Architecture in association: Lacoste+Stevenson and DJRD architects
Date: 2012
Team: Thierry Lacoste, David Stevenson, Robin Dyke, Geoffrey Rex, Tasmin Dunn, Nicole Fisher