Access design review and report writing process – Case study: Brimbank Aquatic and Wellness Centre (St Albans Leisure Centre)

Undertaking the design review early will have the greatest impact.

Community projects like this one are rare. A $55 million aquatic and wellness centre for the City of Brimbank delivers community members a state-of-the-art facility. Williams Ross Architects were awarded the contract in late 2018 and Architecture & Access were part of their consultant team from the beginning.

As Access Consultants, it is beneficial to get involved with this type of project from the early design stages. Early involvement ensures that a cost-effective design process is achieved, and spatial considerations are brought to the table early.

At Schematic Design stage, a high-level review of the architectural documentation was conducted to identify items that did not meet the required benchmarks. The review considered the requirements for access and the goals of universal design to guide the development of the plans in the subsequent stages of the design.

In the early stages, it is crucial to ensure that the location of entrances, lifts, stairs and accessible bathrooms are well positioned to ensure that people of all abilities can move throughout the building with ease and minimal effort. This reduces the need for re-designing at later stages of design which can be costly and inefficient.

Once the spatial layout had been established, a review of the design development documentation was undertaken. At this stage a more detailed review is conducted which includes the finer details of; carparking, doors, stairs, ramps, sanitary facilities, hearing augmentation, statutory signage, surface finishes and other items required to meet legislative requirements for accessibility. The issues and actions in the report highlight any identified non-compliances and make recommendations for Universal Design features.

Once the design has advanced to the construction documentation stage by the consultants’ team, the Access Consultant undertakes a review of the drawings, schedules, fittings and fixtures, civil and electrical drawings. The aim of the review is to close-out all issues from the previous report to ensure that compliance can be achieved.

During the construction stage Architecture & Access remained in regular consultation with Williams Ross and the construction team from ADCO Construction, to ensure that any issue was addressed and access compliance was achieved. This attention to detail by the builder and architect ensured that the Brimbank community and client are delivered a building that is fully compliant with the relevant legislation and can accommodate users of all abilities.

As you approach the Aquatic and Wellness Centre, you are met with a clearly defined entrance which directs users effortlessly to the reception desk with accessible features. From the reception desk, visitors are directed to the distinct zones of the Centre or directly to the lift and stairs which are all visible from the central hub of the building.

Wide corridors allow for ease of movement for a large number of users. Wayfinding signage is clear and direct and strong luminance contrast is achieved between flooring and furniture to aid people who are vision impaired. Two Changing Places facilities are available for people with high support needs and their carers, as well as several accessible sanitary facilities with showers.

The Centre boasts a 50 metre-10 lane-Olympic sized swimming pool with spectator seating, two impressive waterslides, a 24-hour gym with state-of-the-art equipment, group fitness studios for yoga and pilates, a wellness Centre with consulting suites for allied health professionals, a creche and learning spaces. The Centre is nearing completion and set to open in September 2022.

Written by Sarah McCarthy, Access Consultant

Architecture & Access


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