The programmatic components included a unique assembly of administrative, residential, commercial, exhibition, event, and open public spaces which all share a direct relationship with the integration of natural systems.
Eureka‘s design proposal begins with a direct response to the density, scale and connectivity to the surrounding neighborhood. The site is situated along a major thoroughfare, Devlin St, between the thriving West Ryde neighborhood and the largest commercial center in town. This tension between low and high, neighborhood and commercial, prompted a design strategy which would blend the two contrasting sides of the city. The west part of the site behaves like an ecosystem, a park and a resting zone for the residents while the east part of the site rises up to meet the commercial development, an active and hybrid zone.
By choosing to hybridize many of the components which make up a city on a single site, the new Ryde Civic Centre would have to collapse both use and natural urban space. Blending together the programmatic functions, including event, performance, retail, and open space meant folding a new layer over this assemblage. A geometrical strategy driven by multiple parameters, including resource efficacy, and ecological integration. The idea of topological continuity was key and further enhanced by analysing the climate and environmental impacts which in turn informed the massing strategies.
The sites topographical character, sloping north to south, led the team to integrate a series of ponds that would collect, store and guide rainwater along primary, secondary and reuse system. Collecting grey water and reusing it to maintain the growth of vegetation throughout the park and façade became imperative to the overall vision.
The north façades topological approach maintains a tangential relationship with the ground in order to reinforce the natural flow of biological systems from ground to the building façade. The decision to use a felt living wall system provided a solution which reduced the carbon footprint compared to other pre-assembled living wall systems. By allowing the façades natural growth to take place on site, facilitated by an irrigation system, the façade would emerge as a dynamic response to climate weather and the interaction between a selection of plant species. The intention of increasing the density of plants and trees on the site included actuating a microclimate through evapotranspiration, optimising the energy balance and comfort level for residents. A higher insulation value provided by the living wall system meant that most living units within the building could be placed along the north facing façade with views of the wetland park and quiet neighborhood.
Last but not least, the design aims to provide the City of Ryde with a unique approach to synthesising natural systems, an iconic relationship to nature and resources, and a direct response to density of use within its urban fabric. The city is made up of life and all elements should be treated as irreducible as we continue to discover the connectivity of all systems. The new Ryde Civic Centre maintains this approach and derives an iconic language from it, for all its residents to experience.