Why is Bendigo of personal significance to you?
I was born and raised in Bendigo. When I was 20 years old, I moved to Geelong to attend Deakin University. I lived there for nine years before moving to Melbourne for work. During that time, I always maintained connections to family, friends and the local community in Bendigo. Since working on the Bendigo TAFE project, I’ve really enjoyed being home – so much so that I moved back home six months ago.
You are an alumnus of Bendigo TAFE too. What study did you undertake there?
I studied a Diploma of Building Design and Drafting (Architecture) from 2005 to 2006. The course was instrumental in giving me the hands-on experience I needed to become job-ready.
Did you visit Bendigo City Campus often as a student? What was your experience of the Campus?
My classes were split across the Bendigo City Campus and Charleston Road Campus. Back then, the City Campus buildings were a little dark, outdated, and difficult to navigate (with poor wayfinding) but the campus had a charm and warmth to it. I vividly recall wandering through the enlarged volumes of the historic Bendigo School of Mines buildings and exploring the surrounding courtyards, nooks and crannies all nestled in between the buildings.
My personal connection to Bendigo TAFE runs deep because my father worked there for many years when it was still known as BRIT. I have many fond childhood memories of visiting the campus with dad and running around the buildings and courtyards.
How did your career evolve after your time as a student at Bendigo TAFE?
During my second year at Bendigo TAFE, I landed a part-time job at Penno’s Design and Drafting. I soon realised that my passion was architecture, so I undertook an Architecture and Construction Management degree at Deakin University.
The skills I learned at Bendigo TAFE enabled me to gain hands-on, practical work throughout my university studies and in 2007, I got a job at Time Nicholas Landscape Architecture in Barwon Heads.
My big break came when I was approached by an Architectus Principal who critiqued my master’s design presentation while at Deakin. I’ve been working at Architectus ever since – just shy of ten years!
I’ve been very fortunate during my time at Architectus. Early in my career, I was given incredible opportunities to work on a range of complex, multi-disciplinary projects under the tutelage of a talented team of architects and designers. I was promoted to Associate recently, which is a testament to how much Architectus invests in nurturing and developing its people. Bendigo TAFE offered an exciting opportunity for me to work on a large complex project back home, which has been hugely humbling and rewarding.
Some other major Architectus projects I’ve worked on include:
- State Library Victoria Redevelopment, Melbourne
- NeXT, Footscray Library Community’s and Cultural Hub concept and business case, Footscray
- Seeing Eye Dogs Australia Breeding Centre, Kensington
- BHI Box Hill and Lilydale Campus Masterplans
- Hyatt Hotel Downie Street, Melbourne
What was your role in the Bendigo City Campus revitalisation project?
I was the project architect and day-to-day contact for the design team to Bendigo Kangan Institute. This involved managing a multi-disciplinary team consisting of architects, landscape architects, building services engineers, structural engineers and civil engineers. This included being responsible for the project’s ecological development and sustainability, traffic control and access consulting. I led the team from initial client briefing through to the design process and building construction, including town planning and Heritage Victoria approval processes.
How did you feel when you were appointed to work on this project?
Excited and a little daunted! It was a great opportunity to reflect on the historic fabric and industrial heritage of the place where I grew up. I had always wanted to contribute to regional architecture and prosperity in Bendigo, and to do this with a project that will add so much social and economic value to the community is especially meaningful to me.
What has it been like to work on this project?
My experience working on the project has been enormously enlightening. I’ve learnt so much from the TAFE’s various student and teaching cohorts – ranging from hairdressing, barbering, beauty therapy, hospitality, and nursing to the array of foundation studies.
It’s also been incredibly rewarding to connect with the students, staff and community to better understand their aspirations for the City Campus, which I was able to transform into a fit-for-purpose design, and ultimately into a living, breathing space. It’s been especially heartening to hear from the locals how much the revitalised TAFE means to them.
How do you think the new City Campus contributes to Bendigo city centre? What’s the importance of having a revitalised campus?
The project truly gives Bendigo TAFE a new face; it activates the street frontage with accessible laneway entries. These were integral to the design of the City Campus because they invite all people (not just students and teachers) to enter the premises and experience the campus. Over time, this will help strengthen the connection between Bendigo TAFE and the Bendigo community.
The campus’ location at the eastern-edge of the city centre also makes it a city-shaping site because of the vital role it plays in welcoming visitors from Victoria’s north.
What are your favourite aspects of the new buildings?
For me, the three best words that best describe the new City Campus are “connected”, “enduring” and “light–filled”.
What message would you give to the students who will be studying in these new buildings?
I would say that these state-of-the-art buildings are yours to enjoy, so explore them! Spend time discovering the different learning environments and how they best work for you. We have created environments that will enhance the learning experience for all kinds of learners; perhaps you thrive in practical spaces for hands-on learning, or maybe you’re seeking high–energy collaborative settings, or you might need quiet zones that support reflection and individual study. Whatever it is, the new City Campus will help inspire new ways of learning and enhance the extraordinary opportunities offered by Bendigo TAFE.