The Smart Apartment

And a Proposed Design for the National Information and Communications Technology Centre of Excellence

For the Bauhaus Serve City Sydney Trimester III, Wednesday 12 June 2002, in Sydney


  1. Introduction
  2. City Edge
  3. Wrong With iHome
  4. Home office design
  5. Design Project
  6. Smart Apartment Technology
  7. Design for NICTA
  8. Books
  9. Home Page

7. Design for the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Centre of Excellence

On 22 May 2002 the Federal Government announced that a $129.5 million Centre of Excellence would be established:

NICTA will become a national landmark institution that takes Australia's ability to create and commercialise information and communications technologies to a new level... NICTA will establish major research and training nodes in Sydney and Canberra. The Sydney node will comprise headquarters at the Australian Technology Park plus a facility adjacent to the University of New South Wales. The Canberra node will be located adjacent to the Australian National University...

From: Joint Media Release - Government announces winning bid for ICT Centre of Excellence 22 May 2002

What might the Canberra, adjacent to the Australian National University look like? The Sydney Node at the the Australian Technology Park provides a good model for the overall structure, with the detail based on the Smart Apartment.

Australian Technology Park

Inside the ATP Innovation Center

The ATP is located at the old Eveleigh Railway Workshops, in Sydney. This includes a railway museum:

``Nearly 20,000 men spent most of their working lives at the Eveleigh Railway Workshops in Sydney's Redfern; heating, thumping, shaping and crafting steel into huge, beautiful, steam locomotives and carriages. They serviced up to 70 locos at a time and built more than 200, which ran on track costing nearly £20,000 per mile, at a time (1870s) when the railways were uniting Australia. It was an age of unprecedented expenditure and prodigious output, of singular vision and tradesmen's pride.''

From: Review of ``Railways, Relics and Romance: The Eveleigh Railway Workshops'', by Anthony Browell, 1996 Architecture Media Australia Pty Ltd.

``Bleeck's first real success as a writer came in 1936 when a series of stories featuring the character Raggles, based on a rat catcher at the Eveleigh Railway Workshops where he worked, began appearing in The Bulletin. He also wrote for various newspapers and magazines including New Idea, Woman's Mirror and the Sunday Telegraph.''From: Pulp Fiction ``Sensational and lurid stories, articles, trash arrive at the National Library'', Press Release, National Library of Australia, 11 February 1998

The ATP temporarily housed the Sydney Conservatorium of Music during refurbishment of its usual home in central Sydney. This made for a lively atmosphere. The ATP included a coffee shop in a central atrium of the building, allowing for informal contact between staff.

As well as providing a stimulating atmosphere, cultural and historical links of the site can be used for marketing the work of a research centre. This technique has been effective for the City of Cambridge, England. The ANU campus has a number of historic buildings which might be adapted for the Canberra node of the NICTA.

Design for a new NICTA Building

ICT Building Design by Tom Worthington If a new building is constructed, one with a similar layout top the ATP might be used (the design is provided as a dxf file in AutoCAD format). This would have offices around the periphery of three sides, with a glass walled atrium in the centre. The ground floor would hold meeting rooms, with increasingly more private offices on upper floors. Communication between offices would be by balconies looking out onto the atrium. The ground floor of the atrium would be a multipurpose performance and meeting space.

A coffee shop would operate at all business hours, with the atrium used as the common room at morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea time. Curtains and a large projection screen could be lowered over the glass wall, allow the whole space to be used as a seminar room. Musical performances would be scheduled for break times, with staff anbd students of the nearby Canberra School of Music. The open plan nature of the design would make it difficult for staff to avoid participating in group activities, combating the tenancy of researchers to sit in their offices "working". A sense of theater would be created by people looking down from the balconies to see presentations (in much the same design as a military command centre).

Video and audio equipment would be permanently installed installed in the atrium and meeting rooms, to allow the Canberra node to be linked to the Sydney one for joint activities. Some functions would be jointly held between the centers, with staff being able to informally interact via a video wall in the common room. Cultural as well as academic performances would be broadcast via the Internet, and available on demand, as a way to promote the centre's work. The same on-demand system would be used to enable presentations to be retrieved and replayed for education and research purposes.

The building could have a network and room fitout similar to the smart apartment. There would be a high speed fibre optic connection to the building from the Internet. There should be provision on the roof for satellite and terrestrial wireless links. Offices would have copper cable and patch panels, allow cabling to be easily reconfigured. The building would have wireless data and telephony networks. Offices could have adaptable furniture to allow for one or more temporary or permanent occupants, with provision for part time workers to lock away their papers and equipment when away, while allowing someone else to use the room. Some rooms could have connecting doors, allowing the space to be reconfigured for larger teams. Some rooms could be equipped with bathrooms and kitchens to allow for temporary accommodation of visiting staff.

Kingston Power Station for the Centre of Excellence?

Kingston Power Station One historic industrial building in Canberra may be available for the ICT Centre of Excellence. This is the old Kingston Power Station. Located on the south eastern shore of Lake Burley Griffin, the building provided electrical power for early Canberra. Now part of a redevelopment plan for housing and businesses on the foreshore, the future use of the building is unclear.

The Power Station which, incidentally, had also been designed by John Smith Murdoch [Chief (Commonwealth) Architect and designer of Parliament House], was constructed during 1913-1915. To announce the commencement and end of shifts a steam whistle would be sounded from the roof and this could be heard in most of the settled areas of Canberra. Many people used it to regulate their own routines. The whistle had been salvaged from HMAS "Australia" after WWI. ... The shell of the Kingston building remains but is now a home to pigeons.

From: THE DIVISION BELLS AND THE TIME OF DAY, from the Unofficial Website for Old Parliament House, Canberra, by Denis Strangman (undated).

Overview Map of Kingston Foreshore Overview Map from Kingston Foreshore Authority

The Kingston Foreshore Redevelopment will see the implementation of the circular lake shore envisaged on Burley Griffin's plan. The display apartment on-site is equipped with IntraVisions's IntraHub Communications Hub in the hall cupboard and data sockets in each room. The site is also planned to have combined home and small office accommodation. The nearby powerhouse would provide an appropriate setting for the NICTA, as part of a living and working environment.

Further Information

A presentation version of this document is available: For an example of the multi-format technique proposed in this document, set your web browser to use the accompanying style sheet . This will omit sections of the document marked with the class definition "optional" and leave a large margin before titles marked "newslide". Set the browser is set to use a large font size and select the frames version of the document, for a slide-show type of presentation.

See also:

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