The overall design successfully creates a legibility of architecture that speaks to the Australian Rules football crowd.
In a joint partnership between the Richmond Football Club, City of Melbourne, Department of Sport and Recreation and the Australian Football League, the redevelopment of the Punt Road Oval fuels the themed landscape of the Richmond Tigers Football Club.
Our desire to root the design within a Melbourne context, as well as reference the athletic grace of the human body, led us to the work of sculptor Clement Meadmore.
The physicality of his extruded shapes sat comfortably with newspaper stills of Australian Rules footballers in action. The long narrow slither of land around Punt Road Oval allowed the continuation of this motif, with the building contorting and squeezing in exertion between the oval’s boundary and AFL Way, as it progresses towards the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) from Punt Road.
This facility is the next instalment in the Richmond Tigers Football Club’s rich, 126 year history. A well recognised image in Australian Rules Football is the vision of the winning team, forming a winner’s circle as they sing their team song in victory – a scene very familiar to the Richmond Football Club. This is relayed in the new facility design, with the elevations drawing inspiration from this post game tradition.
We pictured the team, with their tiger striped uniforms, standing in a circle with arms intertwined as a TV cameraman spins in the centre, capturing them as they sing the popular ‘We’re from Tigerland’ theme song.
There were many other cultural considerations during the redevelopment. Respect was paid to the Jack Dyer Stand, built in celebration of one of Richmond’s greatest football legends, with the continuation of the red brick grandstand. The red becomes an extension of the body of the club, its muscle beneath the club colours.
The continuation of the red brick can also be viewed as a reference to the red of Harold Thomas’s indigenous flag, with the club having established a history of involvement with indigenous groups in Victoria and Central Australia. The new facility also houses the Korin Gamadji Institute, a training centre for indigenous youth, which will be a life skills centre offering vocation training and VET courses.
The multiple uses for the redevelopment evolved from an ethos of co-location which enriches its programmatic function, with areas dedicated to football use, community use and space dedicated as flexible areas able to be programmed for use by all parties at different times.
The overall design successfully creates a legibility of architecture that speaks to the Australian Rules football crowd, one driven on identity, ‘tiger’ pride and loyalty.
It would appear that the principle function is the tie that binds the design of professional and collegiate athletic practice facilities. Whether such buildings are well appointed or more moderately adorned doesn’t matter. Their ultimate success depends on whether the layout makes sense.
Punt road oval football facility perfectly fits this logic of providing all that is needed by its users, from the design to the strategic positioning of the facility both come out well supporting each other to provide the very best.
Making it simple
For many athletes, making the mental commitment to attend practice is already difficult enough. That’s why designers of newer practice facilities endeavor to accommodate players by making the physical act as simple as possible. Before its 72,000-square-foot Football Operations Center opened adjacent to the facility, the team literally found itself shuttled each day from one place to the next in search for training premises.
The problem was that the coaches were off the scene and the players were dressing at the stadium, which is a quarter-mile away. They were always getting bused over to practice; the architect added on to the indoor practice field all the team’s offices, meeting rooms and player facilities so they would have one place to go.