Burnside Substation Upgrade, Burnside
The upgrade has been warmly embraced as a delightful contribution back to the leafy residential street of Burnside
Australian Institute of Architects, Commendation (Small Projects), 2013
As a rule, electricity substations do not make civic statements; nor do they contribute to the streetscape. Facing the quaint established Adelaide eastern suburb of Burnside, SA Power Network’s plant is no exception. The power utility agreed that an upgrade of its metropolitan supply and reticulation provided the opportunity to convert the site’s existing profile from a partially-derelict shed into a contemporary built form.
When developing infrastructure projects, building forms are strictly limited by the demands of their function. Priority is given towards a functional basis that naturally provides design challenges. Tectvs was confronted with a brief where the electricity substation contained specific and inalienable space and servicing requirements – combined with overhead power lines – to create a unique and challenging design brief. Generated using 3D software, Tectvs was able to wrap a striking façade around the building. The abstract forms that comprise the facade reference the surrounding hills and are constructed in local hardwood to reinforce the local relationship.
The articulated facade breaks the massing of the built form and gives a human scale and civic identity to the infrastructure. The solution separates the built form from its functional identity to better integrate within the community not as a substation - but as a jewellery box. The choice of articulated timber gives the structure warmth while allowing a piece of highly developed architectural detail to emerge within a restricted budget.