Banrock Station

Banrock Station visitor centre,
viewed from the north-west.

visible are the greywater reed bed in front of the rammed earth walling, the tracking solar power system in the foreground, and at right rear the vegetation retained while the building is recessed into the landform
Location: Kingston on Murray, South Australia
Date completed: December 1998

Architect: Richard Stafford architects

Environmental systems: Emilis Prelgauskas

Owner: BRL Hardy

(This commentary by Emilis Prelgauskas reflects only his personal views, and does not represent the views of any other party associated with this project.)

Banrock Station is a former irrigation property situated within the oxbow and lagoon of the Murray River surrounding the land.
In recent years the property has been redeveloped for a vineyard operating on environmental principles including the rehabilitation of the lagoon, and retention of remnant vegetation on the site.

During 1998 Richard Stafford architects developed this project for the BRL Hardy corporation as a combined wine tasting, visitor destination and information centre, to be known as the Wine & Wetland Centre

The building project comprises:-
  • good passive comfort performance in the building through curved ceiling high open spaces served mainly by ceiling fans, with support evaporative units
  • climate responsive air circulation
  • thermal mass 'earth linkage' by inserting the building partly into the existing undulating landform, creating partial earth berm while retaining existing vegetation
  • re-use of site spoil in the rammed earth walling of the building, and the landscaping
  • installing tracking solar power system interconnected with mains electricity supply
  • collecting rainwater
  • collecting and treating grey water for re-use in toilet flushing with reed beds both integrated in the services and landscaping design
  • For a photo of a minor reed bed, see Waste water treatment and re-use where there is also a description of greywater treatment systems.

    Banrock Station is one of a number of projects where Emilis Prelgauskas has assisted on projects by other architects.
    This project, like others, exemplifies the potential conflicts in goals between owner and builder in a building project.
    The project documentation emphasised three goals:-
    - the timetable for construction
    - the product
    - environment protection during construction

    Conventional development practices tend to emphasise as priority firstly rapid construction, and secondly completion of the documented product. This occurred on this project as well.
    In the process, the emphasis on environment protection was substantially lost.
    Trades failed to collaborate to minimise trenching intrusion, suppliers and tradesmen prejudiced large areas of the fragile mallee soil and vegetation with vehicle movement;
    all this lead to the need for substantial rectification after practical completion.

    But pine chips doesn't adequately replace the indigenous desert flora ecology.


    Here again as on other projects, tradespeople were reticent about 'environmental systems'. They were seen as too hard to build.
    At the end of the works, plumber and electrician agreed that nothing built here had been more difficult than conventional construction; now that they had seen them in action.

    End of section