Australian architects Collins and Turner have wrapped a refurbished community center with a steel canopy covered in lush foliage. Located in the Sydney suburb of Waterloo, the angular awning forms part of the amenities block for urban housing and health association Weave. Comprised of structural poles and mesh made from galvanised steel, the canopy will allow the building to merge with the surrounding parkland as the plants grow.
The new canopy also hides a landscaped roof garden on top of the community center building, which looks down on a rectangular courtyard paved with timber taken from reclaimed city power poles below. These features allow natural light and ventilation to reach all corners of the building, which was designed specifically for low environmental impact. “Internally, comfort conditions are passively controlled using natural cross ventilation, exposed thermal mass, and a building envelope shaded by the canopy structure and climbing plants,” said the architects.
Glass doors provide access from the open plan workspace to the central courtyard, which can also be used as an outdoor work area. Designed for 14 staff members, the internal space is subdivided to accommodate amenities such as two counselling rooms, a manager’s office and a kitchenette.
The building design was inspired by the grass covered iron-age forts of Celtic Wales, the aviary at London Zoo designed by Cedric Price, and the work of John Krubsack, an American naturalist who experimented with growing and grafting plants into shapes. This particular aspect of the project is apparent in the architect’s description: “As the plants mature and grow across the canopy, the building will gradually merge with its park setting, becoming an abstract and sculptural green land-form that punctuates the park boundary and visually merges with the adjacent tree canopies.”
Images by Collins and Turner