A new Centre for Circularity in the Bega Valley – Plans Revealed
COX and the Bega Valley Shire Council acknowledges and pays our respects to the traditional custodians of the lands, waterways and airspace of the Bega Valley Shire. We respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the Bega Valley Shire including the communities of the Yuin-Monaro Nations.
In 2023, COX were appointed as the Lead Design Consultant for The Centre for Circularity. Located in the Bega Valley, the centre will be Australia’s first circularity centre and a world leading fully circular destination. It will be a multi-stakeholder, regionally networked facility with the technology to bring circularity alive.
This multi-purpose community facility will be the public face of the Bega Circular Economy, creating local jobs and value creation for the Bega region. The centre will showcase local products, programs, technology use and community history. It will incorporate the Bega visitors’ centre, gift shop, local providore, AgTech and business innovation hub, the administrative hub, as well as Indigenous cultural information. As Australia’s home of the circular economy concept, it also has the potential to incorporate Research and Development, and training opportunities.
The Centre for Circularity is a world’s first. It is a unique building complex that demonstrates ideas and metaphors that give people the opportunity to learn. It is an education centre where people will experience what aspects of circular philosophy apply to every aspect of manufacturing and daily life.
What does this mean for the region?
A circular economy is one in which a corporation, city or region keeps resources in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value from them while in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of their life. All materials are kept in a ‘close loop’ right along the value chain all the way to consumption.
It is a more efficient and sustainable alternative to the traditional linear economic model in which we make, use, and dispose of resources. Circularity works at every level of the economy – micro, meso and macro.
The circular economy considerations for the Bega Valley Shire are to minimise resource loss to landfill by converting traditional waste streams into materials of value that can be reused and recycled to extend their lifespan.
The vision is for the Bega Valley to become the most circular region in Australia by 2030, enabling resilience and transition to net zero, positioning the Valley for the future and giving circularity a home.
“What we are trying to achieve here is a great centre of collaboration where we demonstrate that we are able to bring people together from all walks of life. Where we are able to bring the best of technology, education, resource management, and say this is how you run a region that is truly focused on a sustainable future in all that it does” Barry Irvin, Executive Chairman, Bega Group, Chairman, Regional Circularity Co-operative Ltd.
Architectural Expression and Design Philosophy
The design of the building is conceived as a journey through landscape in a series of spaces that are intended to express the Centre for Circularity. The building is made from country, to form the rammed earth walling that emerges from the land along a spine. Recycled and reused age-old timbers carry the expressive roofs. The building is placed along the curve of the site, accessed from the car park and drop off point. The arrival experience will allow patrons to walk through a newly formed Indigenous Forest until they reach the entry, approaching the building spine.
The entry creates a ‘sense of arrival’ to the complex and is a statement of the Bega Circular Valley philosophy. This structure has inspired the Centre for Circularity logo as an emblem of rebirth, recycling, and restoration.
A circular “halo” symbolises the key elements contained within the plans form and roof structure, this is also where the solar collection system for the complex is housed. A rainwater collection pond, a focal point within the entry, is integral to the plan for both environmental and energy purposes.
The museum consists of three pavilions that represent the three elements of AWE – air, water and earth. They will house a variety of artefacts including the historic items from the existing museum within the Bega Cheese Factory. The museums will cover topics related to ecology, maritime and the environment. These uses are indicative only and will change as the program develops. Each museum pod will be constructed from rammed earth, designed as discreet spaces with purpose display lighting that will be environmentally controlled. Each museum pod is connected to a common foyer walkway (the central spine) linking to all parts of the complex. The spaces between the pods are designated for landscape, biological purposes and demonstration. The roof structure is a simple skillion with a centralised rainwater system.
The restaurant and multi-purpose hall are designed for flexibility. During normal use, it will provide food and beverage for visitors and locals. The hall will be used for educational purposes, corporate events, and conventions as well as for social gatherings such as weddings. The hall roof structure will be constructed in timber with a unique framed roof, while the walls will be clad in timber, all celebrating the timber industry of the South Coast. Large glass doors open onto a sheltered terrace capable of being adapted with additional equipment for larger functions.
The education hub is an elliptical building to house a continuous (360 degree) immersive experience. With the technology to demonstrate the principles of circularity and other educational programs, the building will also be used by schools and universities. The roof structure will demonstrate the use of reused timber and be a significant demonstration of timber technology. The walls are constructed in steel with recycled timber cladding externally.
The landscape surrounding the complex will use local Indigenous sustainable materials and plants to complement and add value to the existing rural environment. Between the museum pods, a series of demonstration gardens are provided, which include Indigenous medicinal medicine and bush tucker. A kitchen garden has been included in the design overlooking the lake, which will be tended to by community sources.
A playground has also been included in the design, in a protective space associated with the restaurant and hall. Equipment in this space will be educational, demonstrating the principles of circularity while ensuring the children are still playfully entertained.