Solving complex design problems through collaboration

As architects, each project we take on is different and brings with it unique challenges. Recent times have added an additional layer of complexity, as we grapple with the challenge of delivering the high standards our clients expect against a backdrop of ever-changing COVID restrictions.

In this article, we share our experience with a recent project in a remote location, and how we were able to address various complexities through collaboration and technology.

JMc Architects has had the privilege of working with some of Queensland’s most unique and culturally significant communities, and our current project with Torres Shire Council, Leisure Management Excellence (LME) and DWP Architects on Thursday Island is a great example of this.

Our team was selected as a consultant for the Tamwoy Town Recreational and Sports Precinct, contributing specialist local urban design knowledge and master planning expertise. John Summers and the team from LME brought to the table experience in sports and leisure planning and were responsible for the collections of data from the stakeholders, facilitating a strong brief to work to. Peer review was completed by Stephen Cheney of DWP Architects.

A unique project

Located on the north-west side of Thursday Island in the Torres Strait north of Queensland, Tamwoy Town Recreational and Sport Precinct will be a multi-use public space designed to provide cultural, health and wellbeing facilities. Tamwoy Town (also known as Tamwoy Reserve) was established in 1957 and is a unique cultural and communal precinct within the Thursday Island community.

The recreational and sports precinct will involve multiple sites with diverse facilities, landscaping and built form elements. It is set to include one full and one half-sized basketball court, a landscaped grandstand, fitness station, open stage with amphitheatre, toilet and shower facilities, a café, covered areas for market stalls and multiple children’s playgrounds.

Overcoming design obstacles

Our traditional approach would be to visit the site in person as part of the initial consultation and project scoping, however an untimely COVID-19 lockdown meant this would not be possible. Rather than create unnecessary delays, the project steering committee resolved to seek a way forward utilising available resources.

Fortunately, our clients were happy to visit the site on our behalf and capture a series of short videos via smartphone, through which we were able to glean key insights into the site’s topography, boundaries, visibility, vegetation and other vital information. This allowed us to progress our design process, minimising interruption to the project timeline.

Cultural sensitivities

The cultural significance of the new precinct to the Tamwoy Town community is at the heart of our collective design approach. Hence our ability to remotely attend consultation sessions with community members and the project steering committee has been crucial.

Keeping abreast of council community engagement sessions has also provided us with the opportunity to incorporate key considerations of space, social cohesion and cultural symbolism into our architectural approach.

As consultants working in Australia’s diverse regional communities, seeking a way forward in complex circumstances inevitably requires adaptability and flexibility. Our maturity as a firm continues to hinge on our capability to meet not only the client’s requirements but also the prevailing environmental, economic or political conditions.

By Julianne Field, Director, FRAIA, BOAQ No. 2965

JMc Architects is an award-winning architectural firm known for collaborating with luxury high-end residential private clients, government departments, large institutions and construction companies to create innovative and sustainable building designs that enhance quality of life and contribute positively to communities.