Posted: 25 January 2016

South Australia’s ground-breaking Tonsley innovation district has received further international acclaim, winning the 2015 World Architecture News (WAN) Award for Adaptive Reuse. Over 60 projects were entered from around the world, with Tonsley the only project from Australia in the final six.

Tonsley is a project by the Government of South Australia led by the Department of State Development and Renewal SA. The 20-year project represents an investment of more than $253 million that is forecast to attract more than $1 billion in private investment.

Woods Bagot Director Thomas Masullo said the win was testament to Woods Bagot’s commitment to design excellence and its strong working relationship with its client Renewal SA and the consultant team.

“Woods Bagot is delighted to be recognised for this globally significant award. In Adelaide, as across the global studio, we underpin our work with thorough research and methodical processes that ensure world-class design outcomes, of which Tonsley is exemplar.”

Prior to the announcement made on Tuesday 19th January 2016, Thomas said Tonsley will continue to raise the State’s profile globally.

“The Tonsley redevelopment represents another South Australian project that is world class in its ambitions, setting a new benchmark for sustainable urban regeneration projects. Tonsley has created an environment that fosters innovation co-located with industry, universities, TAFE and SME’s – it is a symbol of the knowledge economy.”

Designed by Woods Bagot and Tridente Architects, the Tonsley Main Assembly Building (MAB) and Pods is an interconnected and intelligent mixed use precinct. Whilst respecting the structure of the MAB in its current form, Woods Bagot worked closely with Renewal SA and a number of consultants to create a comprehensive design for the adaptive re-use which celebrates the industrial heritage of the building and creates a unique destination and contemporary public space. Within the MAB, the tenancies use a ‘pod’ approach that is adaptable, flexible and highly functional. Oxigen landscape architects were part of the master planning team and the urban designers for the site.

Computer modelling has been carried out to align appropriate daylight levels, thermal and acoustic performance by allocating a specific ratio of solid panels, transparent panels and openings to each space typology. The project team also utilised Computational Fluid Dynamics modelling to derive façade and roof permeability for optimal cross ventilation for user comfort throughout the year.

Woods Bagot Principal and design leader Gavin Kain said the design took a transformative approach, repurposing the MAB as the hub of an innovative living and working community.

“From day one we had a choice with our approach to develop Tonsley. The easy option was to follow the typical industrial park approach, which would have had limited value to the industry and the wider community. Instead we took the alternative, which was to imagine a thriving community within the significant industrial remains of the Tonsley site,” he said.

The jury remarked that Woods Bagot’s and Tridente Architects’s winning design identified benefits to retaining the existing structure, resulting in an urban renewal project without precedent.

“Our brief was to create an environment that would support new manufacturing employment in Adelaide. At the outset it was clear that the only way this would be possible was to deliver a structure that would support a community: a mixed use precinct that will evolve over time while maintaining connectivity to the past,” said Gavin.

“The reuse and adaption of the Main Assembly Building was core to this idea: the design has facilitated a place that the community is connected to, that supports collaboration and is unique. Our client, Renewal SA, understood that we had a truly collaborative team that would enable us to realise their vision. In a way, the project is the start of the innovative culture for Tonsley, and on the broader scale, Adelaide”.

Sustainability was paramount for the MAB with four urban forests inside the MAB provide naturally shaded green spaces, cool the air and reduce the sun’s thermal load on the roof.

Woods Bagot Project Leader Milos Milutinovic explains the benefit of repurposing the site.

“Our choice to retain and rejuvenate some 50,000m2 of existing roof structure has saved approximately 90,000 tons of carbon which is equivalent to taking 25,000 average cars off the road for one year”.

Tridente Architects Director Nick Tridente says “Tonsley demonstrates the strength of the nesting of ideas and the importance of a framework which encourages learning, diversity, entrepreneurship and collaboration.

“It is a unique rich canvas which interrogates the norm and promotes a new way of working.”

Renewal SA Acting Chief Executive Mark Devine says the award places Tonsley firmly on the international stage.

“The State Government is transforming Tonsley into a collaborative and high-value industry, education and residential precinct, where business people, researchers, tertiary students, industries and companies can interact.

“Tonsley represents a new beginning for South Australian manufacturing that also acknowledges its industrial past – and it’s great to see this recognised through the World Architecture News Award for Adaptive Reuse.

“Quality design has always been a primary consideration in the plans for Tonsley so it’s terrific to be able to showcase that on an international stage.

“This award follows on from Tonsley’s Six-Star Green Star – Communities accreditation, Australia’s only urban renewal development to achieve this level of certification.”