Lake Ainsworth Recreation Hall

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Lake Ainsworth Recreation Hall
The new Allen Jack+Cottier designed multi-purpose recreation hall at at Lake Ainsworth, Lennox Head in northern New South Wales, Australia, has replaced an old, worn-out indoor sports facility. The brief called for a large, multi-purpose recreation hall, to be used for basketball, netball, badminton and other sports, as well as meetings, films and theatrical performances. An outstanding role model for NSW State Government - Department of Sport and Recreation Centres, Lake Ainsworth multi-purpose recreation hall embraces the principles of environmentally sustainable design. The building draws inspiration from the glass pavilions of the 1800s; most notably, Joseph Paxton’s vision for The Crystal Palace, built for the Great Exhibition in 1851, and subsequently moved to its present site in South East London. The Crystal Palace was regarded as a ‘Winter Park and Garden under Glass’. While taking its inspiration from this building, the recreation hall at Lake Ainsworth had to meet the challenges of dramatically different climactic conditions. Glass palaces provided wonderful internal light qualities as well as vast spaces and shelter from the elements in countries with temperate summer climates. However, they are not successful in tropical or warmer climates without extensive mechanical cooling and shading. By utilising a heat stop cellular polycarbonate sheeting to the roof and walls that transfer only 1% of (solar) heat a cost effective and elegant building skin was achieved. The challenge for the design team was to create a groundbreaking building that would be: simultaneously energy and environmentally efficient, respectful of the site, and inspirational for its users, whilst meeting tight budget constraints. Exhaustive on-site and environmental research, coupled with a lateral approach to materials selection, proved to be the keys to this inspired design. Detailed modelling showed that a transparent, insulating UV-resistant material such as Danpalonâ„¢could be used over a steel frame to incorporate central ventilation for fresh air-cooling. The design comprises three coloured services pods enclosed in a dramatic luminescent tube-like box. The main space can be closed off at both ends and reacts to outside weather conditions through a series of programmed louvres and roof vents. At night, when the building is transformed into a theatre, the translucent skin glows like a lantern in the landscape. According to the architect, Michael Heenan, the real thrill, now that the building is a reality, is the way it reflects the colours of the morning and evening light, as well as the surrounding bushland. “This is really about light, the skin of the building is perfectly smooth, and therefore reflects whatever is around it.`


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