Australian Defence Force Academy Auditorium, Canberra, Australia

Providing a modern solution to challenging requirements

The Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) provides education and military training for potential leaders of the Navy, Army and Air Force. The original facilities, which were built in the 1980s, required significant upgrades to modernise the auditorium and meet the changing teaching techniques and current spatial requirements of the Academy.

“Drawing on our global pool of resources and facilitating increased collaboration and coordination were the success factors of this project. The design engineers on the project were enthusiastic and committed to ongoing innovations and constantly thinking out of the box to address challenges,” says Chetan Rajasekariah, Built Environment Associate at Aurecon.

Aurecon was engaged to provide building services, civil, survey and structural engineering design for the upgrading and extension of the existing facilities and the development of new facilities for the AFDA Redevelopment Project. Aurecon attributes the success of this project to having a single point of contact and a highly coordinated project team involved in the upgrade.

The design manager on the project worked with a team of design engineers based in Sydney, while drawing on Aurecon’s expertise in the Adelaide, Canberra as well as New Zealand offices. The entire team met regularly to ensure that all of the design solutions that were offered were within scope requirements and that any technical challenges could be addressed early on during the design phase. This type of information sharing led to detailed and successful documentation as well as the ability to address any potential pitfalls before they arose.

Unique technical design challenge

The client’s requirement of being able to divide the massive auditorium into two separate lecture halls with two separate stages was a unique technical design challenge. The two halls needed to be able to rotate between a single 1200 seat capacity mode or into two modes (a 400 seat and 800 seat mode). In order to achieve this, the design team created an acoustically treated retractable wall that enabled two separate lecturing halls that would not disturb one another. Innovative acoustic engineering principles were applied to achieve this in such a large building.

Another challenge of this project was the limited access to in-ground services drawings, which made it difficult to provide an accurate analysis of the location of these services. To address this challenge, Aurecon recommended the engagement of a potholer who could accurately locate the services, allowing Aurecon to develop drawings reflecting the location of the in-ground services.

Aurecon also provided a detailed life cycle analysis that determined that many of the existing services were at the end of their useful life and that the upgrading of the central plant services would offer significant whole of life benefit to Defence.

The AU$98 million upgraded facility was officially opened mid-2015. The four year project marks the largest upgrade to the academy since it opened in 1986 and the new facilities enable the client to offer modern learning environments to improve the education and training delivered to the Navy, Army and Air Force personnel.

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