Tag Archives: Garry Baverstock AM

Russell Centre, 159 St Georges Terrace Perth (1986)

Ecotect-Architects designed a conversion for The Russell Centre to retrofit it as a commercially viable solar efficient office building. Retrofit additions include an internal shade-controlled solarium and a series of external shade awnings designed to reflect light upwards into the building. Resulting heat loads and light levels were kept uniform in the building and external skin thermal loading was reduced by 85%. The project viability was assessed using a discounted cashflow approach to energy savings and lifecycle costing.

On the 18th of September 1986, Sir Charles Court unveiled the Russell Centre (in honour of Mrs Dora Russell, open.

Garry Baverstock AM, the architect said, “I set out to design a building giving special attention to reducing running costs and introducing as much natural light as possible. This meant designing something which would maximise the sun in winter but reduce the heat of the sun in summer.

One local journalist at the time described the building as ‘an ugly duckling that matured into a white swan’.

Strathearn Apartment

Apartments that have not been built to code specifications are very topical right now and Ecotect have been busy working on a special project to deliver options surrounding an existing apartment building located in Crawley, between the Swan River and Kings Park.

Despite being a small, existing development of just 20 apartments, we see this as a fun architectural challenge in which we need to deliver some options to create a safe, compliant fire exit from the existing building that is both subtle and visually appealing.

Space to complete this is limited, with the final design needing to comply with strict legislation to protect tenants and also be functional for years to come, not a short term fix.

What this has created however, is the opportunity to upgrade the surrounding landscaping and utilise previously ‘dead space’ with seating and plants to create a visually inviting area for people to enjoy.



Garry, Penelope and our intrepid intern Lyssandra have been working on this project.

Apartment Buildings in Australia in Disarray: A Response to the Four Corners Expose

Ill-Conceived Economics

Twenty years ago when the builders together with the authorities allowed the construction industry to cheapen buildings and supposedly speeding up the process and avoiding red tape, there was an economic disaster in the making.

They conspired to cut out the architect as leader of the construction industry team. It started with accountants acting as project managers/cost controllers and rapidly spread to the proliferation of design construct companies, who used designer – drafting services and rarely any registered architects. The Governments at the time thought it was a “beaut” idea. It was flawed through ignorance and an abuse of power that did not ever serve the public interest.

As the ABC expose on Four Corners showed, Australia was at that point destined to create problems on a massive scale:


Prior History

Prior to that time, architects traditionally were engaged by clients or developers to certify all payments to the builder. Or professional role was to protect the standards of construction, health and generally urban design quality and standards of finish – Not any more it seems!

Now with an unimaginably large cost burden to strata owners, first in the firing line to rectify defects, it ultimately will end up a burden for the tax burden due to legal loopholes that protect the real perpetrators.

The Cost of Incompetence

The Four Corners program indicates the scale of the issue that has delivered what I estimate at being a $1.6 Billion expense to rectify the compounding problems that are endemic in 70% of apartments built over the last 20 years.  This has happened, all to avoid paying the architects about $100 million in fees to avoid this occurrence.

We have first hand experience in many cases over the last 20 years having to audit process and set up a rectification programs for many design construct buildings after the event. Ecotect-Architects are currently trying to rectify a serious apartment fire escape issue in Perth. The Strata owners in this case will get through a rectification cost reasonably unscathed, but they are much luckier than most.  The building at present does not comply for fire exits for instance.

Superintendence and Certification Roles

Proper superintendence and certification of progress payments by responsible registered and insured architect would have avoided all the current issues and expense to the community.  Also all the buildings would have a better quality of design and finish and reflect higher real estate values.

It is not just a problem based on greed and ignorance from the collusion of design construct builders and developers. It is just plain stupidity that our fellow professionals identified when this new approach became accepted by the relevant authorities.

Action from Architects and Engineers to help Governance

The destruction of real estate values, people’s lives in turmoil has been the result. Some blame can be attributed to banks still living a delusion that ‘A Class’ builders have more credibility than ‘A Class Architects’ in de-risking a finance deal.  How wrong is that belief system proven to be, when it is their capital under threat when quality issues undermine the investment.

The Government now needs to work out a smart way forward with the Australian Institute of Architects, Engineers Australia and the Master Builders to reconsider the legal chain of command and due processes and more stringent compliance procedures. Business as usual is clearly not working!

Housing Industry

The Housing Industry set up checks and balances over 30 years ago to protect the consumer and maintain standards. Surely the bigger end of town should have followed. Alas they didn’t and now Australia is faced with 20 years of eroded economic value!

This unfortunately has fuel NIMBY hysteria over change and giving negative people just cause to attack densification around transport and commercial nodes that in itself is a very good strategy, especially if all developments are designed well on ESD guidelines as well.  But that takes good architects.

Professionalism Re-emergence

Re-establishment of professionalism in Australia is the way forward. It would be easy for industry and governments to blame the victims and exonerate the perpetrators. The opposite is needed. Why have trained architects and engineers sidelined to often un-educated builder/developers to look after the public interest. It is not the architects who have been asleep at the wheel.  Ill-conceived disempowerment of professionals is to blame. The system has worked well for centuries. 

Time to make things right again.  Technical and ethical expertise is what it takes to be an engineer or architect.

Lets use our assets properly!

Old School Architects

We are old school architects at Ecotect-Architects and deliver on all aspects. Project management, supervision of builders and tradesman where needed, as well as delivering excellence in planning, urban design, documentation all combine to deliver high quality innovative ESD projects.

People who think differently clearly do not belong in the 21st century built environment industry, with all its socio / economic / cultural challenges and the ability to recognize how sustainable outcomes are delivered.

Garry Baverstock AM Director of Wise Earth PL and Principal of Ecotect-Architects – August 2019

Ecotect Architects to Lead and Promote a Vision for Swanbourne

Vision for Swanbourne

The vision for Swanbourne was spawned 12 years ago when Garry Baverstock and Julia Hayes made Swanbourne their home. They could see the village environment was degrading slowly rather than improving, however, they felt it was a great place for rejuvenation around the railway station. This rejuvenation was given a large boost with the current plans to develop the whole precinct with the Swanbourne Village complex becoming a catalyst for change to a more vibrant and desirable place to live.

Swanbourne Precinct will share Vision

Swanbourne Precinct will share Vision

The Swanbourne Village will take advantage of the proximity of the railway station with plans to help existing businesses already there to increase diversity and create more customers while attracting new businesses to the area and making them all more viable.

Collaboration with Business Owners

The vision will be further extended just across the railway line from the Swanbourne Village with the creation of the Swanbourne Precinct Development Trust that has recently purchased a crucial property within the business complex. A collaboration with the business owners adjacent to the railway line will complement the initiative of the Swanbourne Village to increase and improve the shopping precinct while also increasing the density with transit oriented developments at the back and over the existing shops over the next 10 years.

The first step in this rejuvenation is to masterplan the precinct and engage the existing community and business owners as stakeholders as the Trust develops, so all are empowered to control their own destiny rather than the piecemeal approach often favoured by big developers. Garry Baverstock commented,

“We create a community style development where the stakeholders are the real stakeholders and beneficiaries of what is achieved; driven by an architectural and planning concept rather than simply a money-making venture”.


Development Similar to Prahran, Melbourne

This planned development will be similar to Prahran in Melbourne and the Swanbourne Village Trust has a video illustrating how this progressive community in Prahran carried out the planning of their precinct. The principles behind this community based approach is what Ecotech Architects is promoting for Swanbourne.

Finally, every development Ecotect undertakes will adhere to its commitment for maximised, passive and active solar systems and integration into sustainable garden and water waste management systems.

Photo Credits; Nick Melidonis, www.nickmelidonis.com