Hydronaut is a semi-permanent, demountable structure housing an armament of security staff at the northwest edge of Monash University’s Caulfield campus. Occupying just five parking bays on the ground floor of an existing multi-deck car park, its sight lines include a local shopping plaza, Caulfield train station and Monash University’s Campus Green, each window portal taking in a different aspect of the surrounding panorama. The new building provides a panopticonic point-of-presence in a location known for its security challenges.
Marked by prominent portals, the façade’s mirrored circular windows accentuate a camera monocle motif. Inside, black-rimmed peephole portholes punctuate walls lined with reject, perforated-ply acoustic ceiling panels. Separate interior spaces are visually connected by bespoke joinery that float and truncate towards an armour-screened control counter at the bow.
A core aim of the project was to integrate product/infrastructure longevity strategies into work practices; however, rather than designing discrete long-life objects, the notion of longevity was considered from a multi-lifecycle perspective – where waste from one lifecycle generates raw material for another, and so on. The aim being to reduce material consumption while maintaining flexibly designed artefacts and spatial environments.
To this end, and true to the project imperatives, the building’s nine tensegrity exterior modules are reminiscent of lightweight, tent-like structures. They were constructed reusing a disparate range of domestic, commercial, industrial and construction waste – the adhoc nature of which required novel construction methods and material combinations.
Each module was hand crafted from waste PVC truck-side curtains stretched over tensioning frames made from unwanted exercise trampolines, discarded steel storage racks and reused stud framing. These assemblies were designed upfront for disassembly and further reuse.
Architects: Studiobird + Mark Richardson, Armadale, Australia
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Technical info: PVC membrane
Picture credits: Peter Bennetts