Winter 2022

Engaging interviews, behind-the-scenes insights, news, trends and topical features that celebrate places that evolve our landscape, and the people who bring them to life - welcome to Made by FDC.

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Western Sydney is one of Australia’s fastest growing and most culturally diverse communities. And as part of the NSW Government’s Greater Parramatta North Program, the Western Sydney Start-up Hub (WSSH) will soon be offering a space for innovators, entrepreneurs, scaleups and businesses to grow and flourish.

WSSH’s home is in a historic location, the Parramatta North Heritage Core – specifically the Parramatta Female Factory and the Parramatta Lunatic Asylum buildings. It was FDC’s responsibility to transform these into the WSSH – while retaining their historical significance.

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A unique page in history

The walls of these buildings hold stories dating back nearly two centuries.

The Parramatta Female Factory was Australia’s first purpose-built convict facility for women. Any female convict with no husband or job who arrived in NSW between 1820 and 1830 was sent here. It served as a prison, workhouse, and hospital where they received food and shelter in exchange for labour. [1]

And in 1847, it became the Parramatta Lunatic Asylum. The facility was originally only for convicts but became a public asylum in 1849. [2]

Years before development began, archaeological assessment testing was conducted, revealing that the site was likely an Aboriginal campsite from around 10,000 years ago – deepening its historical and cultural significance.

To protect and respect any discoveries made during restoration and construction, both non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal archaeologists were present to monitor all excavation on site. All Aboriginal archaeological pieces found were moved with the permission of Traditional Custodians of the site. With their permission, each piece was placed in the care of the archaeologists to be recorded and analysed. All pieces will be returned to Traditional Custodians once the project is complete.

TKD Architects and the FDC team aimed to preserve the site’s rich history while designing and constructing this project.

“We want everyone to come to the site and enjoy it for its new purpose, but also understand its previous use,” says Megan Jones from TKD Architects.



A stone by stone restoration

The project included five buildings in total. Restoring them was no small task, but niche trades, time-accurate materials and some creative solutions made it possible.

“Heritage work takes a lot of planning and needs passion and patience from everyone on the team. We have to think on our feet and come up with out of the box solutions,” explains FDC site manager  Jake Dufferin. “You can’t come in thinking you know everything – you’ll fall flat on your face.”

The architects created a design for each building that stayed true to its earliest form and retained as much original material as possible. To bring the walls back to their former glory, our team had to amend the extensions added in the early 20th century and address structural issues such as subsidence.

We carefully dismantled the walls retaining each piece of original sandstone. And stone by stone, we built the walls back up to their original state – with new foundations to support them for many years to come.



Bringing the past into the future

It was our responsibility to make sure the almost 200-year-old structures could meet today’s technology standards and expectations.

Taking a considerate and detailed approach, the team reconsolidated and remediated the structures to ensure their integrity. We also upgraded all services – from stormwater and sewer upgrades to mechanical, fire and power systems. We were guided by meticulous attention to detail, expert archaeological advice, and the Heritage Council.

The result is five stunning 19th-century sandstone buildings showcasing the carefully reconstructed stonework capped with Welsh slate and refined with copper gutters, lead work and flashing. Inside, innovators can enjoy all the 21st-century tech they need in open, high-ceilinged spaces, bathed in natural light.

“I just love the transformation this place has gone through. And the fact that these are beautiful contemporary spaces within historic buildings,” says Megan.



Energised for the future, empowered by the past

Among its lush gardens, this new hub for innovation will inspire inhabitants through stories from past, present and future. Jake and Megan hope whoever finds themselves in the space will love it as much as they do.

“I’ve become a little protective of this place. It’s incredibly special. I hope people give it the passion and respect it deserves,” says Jake.

FDC was honoured to work on such a culturally significant site that means so much to so many. We hope all the new innovators in WSSH feel the same as they forge the ideas of tomorrow in the spaces of yesterday.



Photography: Anthony Fretwell

[1] – https://atparramatta.com/discover/history-and-heritage/historical-places/parramatta-female-factory

[2] – https://www.parragirls.org.au/parramatta-lunatic-asylum

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Goulburn Aquatic Centre’s whole new look

About 50 minutes from the ACT you’ll find Australia’s first inland city, Goulburn. Recently, FDC gave this country community’s local aquatic centre a much-needed facelift.

Known for a giant merino, numerous rose gardens (there’s 21 in total), and a great pie shop, Goulburn is a flourishing country city that’s growing. And like any growing city, it needs some upgrades – starting with its aquatic centre.

As part of the city’s redevelopment of Victoria Park, FDC worked closely with the Goulburn Mulwaree Council to redevelop this recreational centre, giving the community a new space for fitness and fun.


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Planning a new recreational hub


The Goulburn Mulwaree Council wanted a plan for the new centre that was within budget, met the needs of the community and retained the original outdoor lap pool.

We collaborated alongside the council and DWP Design to research and refine our ideas for the new facility, and create a design that fulfilled all expectations. The project team even explored aquatic centres all around the country in search of useful and unique features that could be included in the final product.

“We spent a lot of time having good, robust discussions with stakeholders, consultants and contractors during this process,” said FDC Project Manager Daniel Stephenson. “The Goulburn community has gone three years without an indoor pool, so we really wanted to get this right, and give them somewhere to swim all year round again.”

Together, FDC and the project team planned and constructed a centre that included an indoor lap pool, program pool, hydrotherapy pool, splash pad, gym and bathroom and changing facilities. There is also a cafe that’s accessible to those outside the centre – offering coffee and snacks to swimmers and park visitors alike.



Built to last

This project was made possible due to a huge commitment of community funds from the Council and the State Government. To make sure they were used responsibly, the building’s design invests in features that the public will use each day and aesthetics were kept functional, durable and clean.

To make sure those with limited mobility could access the hydrotherapy pool, FDC installed a ceiling hoist that safely moves people directly from the changeroom, into the pool. It’s one of only a handful of centres in the state with this feature.

For the ceiling beams, Glulam beams were chosen for their durability and strength. “Glulam is created by gluing at least 3 stress graded timber laminates together with their fibres aligning,” explained Daniel. “This creates an extremely strong and fire-resistant beam that’s great for spanning large spaces, and lasts against the pool environment’s corroding effects”

Sheltering the centre is a Kingspan insulated roof, selected for its excellent thermal efficiency and quick installation – which only took two days.

The facility is topped off with a 200KW solar PV system that’s capable of offsetting approximately 248 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year. To make the most of the solar energy produced, the pool’s filtration system is set to operate in the middle of the day – while the panels are generating at their peak.

Thanks to these features, the centre is a robust and strong structure that will stand the test of time despite the corrosive environment caused by the pool – all while remaining environmentally friendly thanks to its thermal efficiencies and solar panels.


Building local

Throughout the build, FDC was determined to use local tradespeople to boost local businesses and encourage a sense of local investment in the build.

“Involving local trades leads to a greater respect and workmanship for the final product, as they’re building somewhere for their family to enjoy.” Daniel explained. “And at FDC we believe in supporting a community during each step of the project, not just in the outcome. It’s a win for everyone.”

FDC worked hard to source as many trades as possible locally, employing professionals specialising in everything from metal work to plumbing from across the region.

During the lockdown there were some challenges, since half the workforce was based in Sydney and other half locally. But with some careful program and resequencing the team was able to work around it and still produce a high standard, quality centre for Goulburn locals.



Ready to make a splash

Today, Goulburn’s new Aquatic Centre is complete and everyone in the community is diving in.

“To see a project like this open and watch everyone from toddlers in the learn to swim pools to the older generations using the warm water pool makes the hard work all the more worthwhile,” said Daniel.

The team is excited to watch Goulburn embrace and enjoy this new space for years to come – we’ll be cheering on every swimming carnival, training session and swim lesson it hosts.


Photography: Daniel Stephenson & Kasey Funnel

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Supporting Boomerang Loop's challenge of a lifetime

FDC’s Jermaine Jones, (Leading Hand, Fitout & Refurbishment NSW) and training partner Ben Swift make up the founding members of Boomerang Loop Au. Together they are cycling 14,251km around Australia in 50 days, aiming to raise $100,000 for Mindfull Aus.

They will travel through NSW, QLD, NT, WA, SA and VIC and will encounter famous Australian landmarks such as The Great Dividing Range and Nullarbor Plain.

It’s a huge challenge, and one we’re proud to be supporting.

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As incredibly active individuals growing up, both Ben and Jay know a thing or two about competitive exercise and being active. A shared love for rugby, power and weight lifting has followed the boys throughout adulthood and they are well aware of the positive impact it can have on mental health.

So in 2020, when the world began to shut down and a lockdown loomed they knew it was time to do something big, and Boomerang Loop Au began.

Inspired by incredible feats like climbing 14 mountain peaks in 7 months or cycling the Pan-American Highway in under 100 days, Jay and Ben searched for the biggest physical challenge they could complete. The result? Cycling 14,251km around Australia in just 50 days.



They understand not only how difficult physically it will be to complete the route (full details here), but also the mental strength and endurance it will take. Knowing the awareness they could raise on the positive impact exercise can have on mental health, they reached out to Mindfull Aus.

“Our purpose at Mindfull Aus is to encourage those in high risk areas of Australia to put wellness back into their own hands. Our success derives from equipping those individuals with skills, strategies and techniques to ensure that they not only get-by and cope, but learn to live and lead healthy, happy and fulfilling lives.” – Our Noble Purpose, Mindfull Aus

All funds raised throughout the challenge will go towards Mindfull Aus’ continued work and support in the community.

Both men have felt the impacts of mental health struggles, whether personally or seeing the effects on friends and those around them. They understand this is an opportunity to give back, championing a hero charity in the mental health sector whilst completing their own biggest test to date.

Setting off on 19th August, this truly is a challenge of a lifetime. We look forward to watching their journey unfold, and are proud to be supporting a cause that makes a personal impact to our people, families partners and beyond.

You can donate to Boomerang Loop Au here.


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