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Mount Macedon – looking to the future
Nestled in the heart of the village, Mount Macedon fire station sits landlocked on a small parcel kindly donated over 50 years ago the generous neighbour.
Over the years, the brigade has created space by raising the roof to make a second storey and extending the front of the station for a bigger motor room. Space is still tight though, particularly as tankers get bigger and PPC requirements increase, leading the brigade to think about how we might improve the station within the existing confines.
Late in 2016 the opportunity arose to partner with the Melbourne School of Design, part of the University of Melbourne, and students in its graduate Masters of Architecture program. Students are required to undertake a number design studios during their course where they develop a solution to a design conundrum. In partnering with the brigade, students were presented with a real life challenge of having to design around an existing structure, addressing the needs of a real client (the brigade), working in a tightly constrained space whilst at the same time meeting all of the contemporary building needs of accessibility and environmentally sustainable design.
Students visited Mount Macedon and a number of surrounding stations in early January to view the challenge and to gain an understanding of how we operate. During the day, the students actually experienced brigades turning out at Newham and Mount Macedon, adding to their experience.
The challenges set out for students were to:
- Improve safety by separating vehicles and pedestrians
- Provide a separate storage area for firefighter PPC and changing
- Provide storage and workspaces away from the motor room
- Replace the existing bi-fold motor room door with a door that can be automated with increased opening height.
Over six weeks, eight students worked intensively with the support of University staff, tutors, specialist consultants and a builder to develop proposals in response to the brief. Students met with brigade representatives fortnightly for client feedback and we saw the plans and models evolve in response to the feedback.
At the end of the semester, eight exciting concepts were presented for assessment by the University and we were delighted that all of the students successfully completed the subject. Whilst not part of their assessment, all of the students and their tutor attended a community feedback session in Mount Macedon in mid-February. This provided an opportunity for the brigade to share the concepts with the community in general and our immediate neighbours in particular. Students also got to experience community consultation in a real world environment. Feedback from the community will factor into our future planning and a number of the plans were well received by our immediate neighbours.
The brigade is eagerly awaiting the last element of the current partnership which is costings for each student’s plan from a quantity surveyor. This is another element that the Melbourne School of Design is providing that goes beyond the requirements of the student’s course. Eight fully developed concept plans with costings is something the brigade would never have been in a position to afford and by partnering with the University it has truly been a win-win partnership.
The brigade now has a range of concepts that it is using to develop a plan to ensure that Mount Macedon fire station continues to be an effective base into the future.
Now to fund it !