Location: Gippsland, Victoria
Photographer: Reflections Photography
Value: $5 million
The Gippsland Water Factory Vortex Centre, one of the most innovative wastewater treatment and recycling systems in Victoria, is taking ‘green energy’ to a new level, introducing a new era for water technology, discovery and education – and in the process, attracting world-wide recognition.
It won the API Excellence in Property awards – Investa Environment Award and is a finalist in the World Architecture Festival being announced shortly in Spain for the architect Designinc, a member of the project team along with Umow Lai who provided a range of engineering and sustainable services.
Located in the Latrobe Valley at Maryland near Morwell, the building is used as an office, laboratory and an interpretive experience for a major new water recycling plant. The vortex form of the building strongly expresses the dynamic movement of fluids down a pipe and at the same time, provides a very special internal environment. The Vortex’s shell is made up of seven barrels that fit into one another as they decrease in size, thus resembling a vortex.
The structure, built over a man-made, 3.5 metre deep lake, has been created as a public education facility where people, including children, can learn more about water conservation and sustainable water management.
It delivers cooling to the building and includes passive environmental measures such as natural ventilation and thermal convection. Due to the stable temperature of the lake, the building delivers a very low energy summer outcome. Cool water from the bottom of the lake is passed through heat exchangers, delivering cool air into the interior. At night, the lake water is pumped over the roof to be cooled for use during the day. During winter, waste heat from a biogas powered cogeneration system will be used to heat the interior. Together, these design principles ensures the Vortex is a low user of natural gas and power from the electricity grid.
As a first of its kind, the Vortex Centre’s interpretive experience highlights water as a precious resource. It teaches visitors specifically about the Gippsland Water Factory, its technology, construction and community benefits.
Apart from the impressive environmental benefits, the Vortex Centre is a place for people to come and learn more about water conservation and sustainable water management.