Canterbury City Council selected McPhee Architects to design an indoor sports centre for the local community
Among several shortlisted firms in Sydney, McPhee Architects was selected and commissioned by Canterbury City Council in early 2007 to design a medium-size building complex for indoor sports and recreation facilities in the existing Rotary Park for local community of Riverwood. The Centre was named The Morris Lemma Indoor Sports Centre (MIISC) in honour of the former New South Wales Premier, Morris Iemma who played a pivotal role in obtaining funding which made this facility a reality. Design objectives given were to provide a highly functional building design with strong visual connection from the centre interior to Belmore Road, the incorporation of environmental sustainability design principles and tight cost constraints.
As a community facility for the people of Canterbury, the beginning of the design process was to capture the context of Riverwood, a "poetic" place name combining both river and wood. This understanding of the geographic and cultural context was a springboard to the creative design process for the building. The form of the Centre expresses itself as a strong muscular building, closely following Council's brief to provide a centre for community health fitness and strength. Multiple strands of the existing physical ‘flow' along the east-west axis of the site led us to devise the building as ‘finger' box strips of various volumes in order to channel and harvest these ‘flows' into a new desirable "catchment" premises for development of sports, recreational and cultural pursuits. These metal and fibre cement clad ‘fingers' extend from the main sports hall west towards Belmore Road. Each ‘finger' has a box shaped picture window end providing a visual connection between the occupants and passers-by giving high visibility to the interior spaces during both day time and evening. These ‘fingers' as well as the entrance awning roofs are dynamic in form and emblematic of motion. The building encapsulates the dynamism and vibrancy in form of abstraction at various building elements like compression and rarefaction of wave strip patterns on metal clad facades, the deformation / folding of north and south Sports Court façade expressing its impulsive wave and energy flow from within, angular interior roof trusses and ceiling form expressing athlete's stretch and grip. Colour has played a big part in the design which aims to heighten human experience to give the building users joy, and surprise when moving around and through the centre.
Sustainable Design features have been embodied and integrated within the building including automated external venetian louvre system within the oversized ‘finger' hoods to shade the afternoon western sun, mixed mode ventilation system, waste heat recovery unit from the air conditioning plant to provide pre-heating of the hot water, 100% rainwater harvesting for landscape irrigation and for toilet flushing, top water conservation rating basin mixers, urinal suites, water closets, toilet flush valves, shower heads with timer control mixers, Low VOC and Green Star rubber flooring, carpet tiles, pinboards, joinery and painting, roof skylight strips placed at strategic locations to provide quality natural light, drought resistant native plant species, etc.