Lavarack Barracks

Townsville, Australia
2005

BVN Architecture
www. bvn. com. au

The City of Townsville, in the state of Queensland, is located on Australia’s north-eastern coast. The city is considered as the unofficial capital of North Queensland and is home to government and civic administration offices for the northern part of the state. Magnetic Island and the central section of the Great Barrier Reef lie offshore in the Coral Sea.

The climate is classified as tropical savannah. In winter, south east trade winds combined with Townsville’s east/west coastline produce less rain than in other tropical cities such as Cairns where the coastline runs north/south producing a lift effect and high rainfall figures.

Townsville’s development relies on the Ross River Dam at Five Head Creek as the major water storage facility for the urban areas.

Urban development is continuing outside of the

Central Business District to the north and west of Townsville including the North Shore Estate housing development. To the south, a satellite city called Rocky Springs will eventually house 55,000 people.

Five kilometres to the south of Townsville, another satellite development is being constructed in three stages to house the Australian Army’s 3rd Brigade, the Defence Force’s ready deployment unit.

The original Lavarack Barracks development was established here in 1965-1966, surrounded by the ruggedly beautiful landscape of the foothills of Mount Stuart.

Stage 2 of the redevelopment includes 1,112 new Living-in Accommodation units.

126 Lavarack Barracks | Townsville | Australia | Fig. 1 above | Fig. 2 opposite

LIVE-IN ACCOMMODATION

TYPICAL OTHER RANKS’ ELEVATIONS AND CLUSTER SECTION

Fig. 5 above I Fig. 6 below

The overall development was designed as three distinct residential precincts. Clustered groups of units provide a strong neighbourhood feel and engender community spirit. Open spaces connecting the clusters include formal parkland, private open space and natural landscape. Pathways and streets connect the residential, recreational and social meeting areas (Fig. 8).

The placement and orientation of the housing appears to be random in the surrounding landscape, however, they are in fact placed to respond to the topography of the site and its planned axis. The residents enjoy spectacular views of creeks, lagoons, mature trees and distant mountains (Fig. 7).

The large scale of the development, combined with the compressed programme, provided an opportunity to prefabricate the various components off site. Factory built wall units, bathroom modules and joinery facilitate quick assembly on site using craneage. This approach had many advantages including increased quality control and minimising the impact of the reduced construction process on the site’s natural environment (Fig. 7).

Minimising the disturbance to the ground contours, protecting native fauna, wildlife habitat and corridors was achieved by mainly keeping the ground floors free from housing units (Fig. 8, Fig. 9, Fig. 10). This policy helped to maintain uninterrupted natural overland flows. Storm water runoff follows the existing ground contours into natural riparian systems.

The floor plans of the modular units were kept narrow to maximise natural ventilation along with minimal east-west sun exposure. Siding materials were selected for low maintenance and cost efficiency. Nett useable floor area has been maximised by utilising external, exposed prefabricated staircases with landings shaded by overhanging canopies (Fig. 8, Fig. 9).

These suspended aerial staircases further enhance the communal, walkable, neighbourhood element of the transitional areas. The overhanging roofing provides protective rain shelter and sun shading for the outdoor private balconies (Fig. 9, Fig. 10). Lavarack Barracks units are fitted throughout with low energy electrical systems and water saving plumbing fittings.

The BVN project, in association with Troppo Architects, has received many awards including the Queensland RAIA Harry Marks Award for Sustainable Architecture.

Fig. 10 above I Fig. 11 below