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Architecture students’ vision for hospital site remodel

by Katrina Phelps

Jet O’Rourke with APBSA Presiding Member Gary Bonato. Photo courtesy of Darren Clements Photography.Jet O’Rourke with APBSA Presiding Member
Gary Bonato.
Photo courtesy of Darren Clements Photography.

A UniSA graduate, student prize winner and tutor will travel to Europe later this year to further explore his idea of adapting the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) site into a new performing arts school and concert facility.

Jet O’Rourke (pictured right) won the 2013 Architectural Travelling Prize in Architecture from the Architectural Practice Board of South Australia (APBSA), valued at $5000, to go towards developing his research into adaptive use of modernist buildings like those on the existing RAH site.

Fellow graduate Tom Hocking (pictured below) was also successful in the RAH International Design Competition, being one of two winners in the Student Design Competition. His entry sought to create greater possibilities for social interaction within the public realm of Adelaide through a master plan of the RAH site underlined by the belief that the fuller the city, the better.

For Jet, he says travelling to Germany, London and Paris – places with a lot more experience at dealing with preservation of heritage buildings – will help him build on the research undertaken last year during his Master of Architecture.

Jet’s vision for an outdoor amphitheatre between the concert hall and neighbouring Bice Building to promote unique urban spaces.Jet’s vision for an outdoor amphitheatre between
the concert hall and neighbouring Bice Building
to promote unique urban spaces.

“I’d like to use the RAH as a case study of how Adelaide architects could approach the preservation and adaption of our modern heritage,” Jet says.

“Although it is questionable to consider the modernist buildings on the RAH site as outstanding examples of their time, what has been ignored is what they represent in the history of healthcare in the 20th century.

“So while the basis of my research is about how we can transform the RAH site, the travelling prize will give the APBSA a body of work that reflects our response in the industry to issues of conservation and adaptive reuse of modernist buildings in our local context that could be the basis of a new architectural strategies.”

Jet’s idea for converting the East Wing situated on the RAH into a new performing arts school and concert facility came after he posed the question, ‘what does Adelaide need?’. And as a former musician who has toured the US and Canada, music was at the forefront of his mind.

“What is almost certain is that Adelaide requires an additional secondary school, and that in terms of cultural landmarks, Adelaide’s music venues are either too big or too small,” Jet says.

“With this in mind, a strategy was devised to pair a performing arts secondary school with a new music facility for Adelaide – the East End Concert Hall – for small to medium performances and events."

Jet will travel to Europe in the second half of this year. In the meantime he is undertaking his first commission – an alteration in Aldgate – as well as tutoring at UniSA while he takes advantage of opportunities for professional development in architectural practices in Adelaide and beyond.

Tom Hocking.

This is the fourth time in four years that a UniSA student has won the Architectural Travelling Prize in Architecture from APBSA.

“The fact that this is the fourth consecutive time it has been awarded to a UniSA graduate speaks for the high quality of our graduates, the program and the teaching staff including those practitioners who contribute to the teaching program,” says UniSA Architecture Program Director Stephen Ward.

For Tom, winning the student prize in the RAH competition has given him a sense of validation.

“In the final year of a design course, you become really internalised as the process is totally consuming,” Tom says.

“To enter this work into a competition opens up this process and offers a considered interpretation of your work by others. To then go on to win gives you a sense a validation that all those late nights and stressful dreams, along with the thought and energy put into the project, has been understood and appreciated by someone else.”

Tom has been working with architecture firm Hames Sharley full-time since finishing his degree after part-time work there during university.