Australian Institute of Architects - Award of Merit (New Buildings) - 2000
When the Port Adelaide Football Club received its belated invitation to enter the AFL as Port Power in 1997, it immediately put in place a program to upgrade its historic suburban headquarters at Alberton to the level befitting a national sporting franchise. While Port Power would play its home games at South Australian football’s premier stadium, the Alberton Oval would become the home base and training ground for Port Power, as well as continuing as the home ground of the Port Adelaide Magpies in the state football league, the SANFL.
Tectvs developed a master plan for the development of the site in the context of its suburban setting and scale, and the need to reflect and protect the 130-year-old traditions of the state’s most successful sporting club.
The first stage, the redevelopment of the Licensed Club into a modern entertainment venue, was given a strong architectural treatment by Tectvs to reflect the arrival of a new ‘Power’ on the national sporting scene while making a visual connection with the quaint heritage characteristics of Alberton. Tectvs was asked to design the next stage in the same context: a world-class training, rehabilitation and administration centre which would compliment the character, style and functionality of Alberton Oval and respond to the character of its suburban setting.
The redevelopment of Alberton Oval evolved under the master plan developed by Tectvs. The placement of the Player and Administration Facility was driven primarily by the requirements and patterns of player movement to and from the training field and a desire for a transparent relationship between oval and building beyond the gaze of public and media. To help the building ‘fit’ into the suburban landscape, Tectvs created three distinct sections and defined each with a different material. The composite concrete and steel-framed portal structure was clad in a mix of red brick, polished and natural finish blockwork in sandstone and jade, and a sealed, expressed fixing of natural coloured fibre cement. The architectural expression was drawn from two contrasting sources: suburban character and football club culture. Alberton is predominantly residential and occasionally industrial, providing material references of brick and sandstone and galvanised metal. Football at the operational level exudes purpose and function, activity and vibrancy.
The design approach was to create a hardworking building that would withstand heavy wear and tear in a ‘streetwise’ suburban environment. The administration accommodation aside, it would not be a pristine environment because it would be home to a particular ‘tribe’ of young men not noted for their sense of order or appreciation of aesthetic values, it would be a place of muddy boots and pool water, discarded strappings and scattered sporting equipment.
On completion in 2000 the new $3.3-million Player and Administration Facility provided, under one roof, 3000 square metres of training, rehabilitation, meeting, coaching, gym, medical and recreation facilities, a four lane heated lap pool, and an administration centre. Environmental considerations focused on ‘first principles’ to minimise energy use, including natural ventilation and lighting for indoor training areas, along with extensive first-floor eaves overhangs and a heat-minimising design treatment for the west elevation.