Category Archives: features

Fisher Design + Architecture awarded for Gleniffer Reserves Interpretive Signage

Bellingen Courier Sun, 24 October 2019

Fisher Design + Architecture has won a national award for interpretive signage at Gleniffer Reserves.

The design excellence award for a project in the $15,000-$50,000 category was presented at the Interpretation Australia National Conference and awards dinner held in Melbourne on October 18.

Installed by Bellingen Council in March 2019, the Gleniffer Reserves Interpretive Signs aim to encourage awareness and appreciation of the precious and rich biodiversity of the Gleniffer Valley. 

Via positive, welcoming and informative messages, the signs offer visitors the chance to discover more about the unique environment, local Gumbaynggirr culture and European settlement history of the Gleniffer Valley.

The judges noted, “The project’s aims and objectives were clear: to share the wonder and beauty of the valley, while simultaneously directing visitors to alternative places to enjoy the region. The use of both video and audio is a fantastic way of taking visitors further into exploring the unique heritage of the place.”

“This is a lovely example of a well-thought out and well-rounded project. Every step was considered. The graphics and choice of recycled timber suit the project so well. The colour is perfect, even the ants that happened to be using one signage post (about fauna) help us see the value of sharing fauna stories.”

Positively presented messages and high quality structures encourage the visitor to be more respectful of, and responsive to, this special place they visit. 

The sign structures, made from local recycled bridge timbers, are designed to complement the colours and materials of the bush surroundings. 

Raw untreated hardwood timbers and rustic steel feature words have been left to weather naturally, and become a harmonious part of the Gleniffer Valley’s natural landscape.

Sawtell Surf Life Saving Club Refurbishment Stage One to begin construction

Construction is soon to commence on stage one of the Sawtell Surf Life Saving Club Refurbishment. A state government grant will partly fund stage one of the $4-million project, which includes a new First Aid Room and Patrol Room, lower level storage, and a new upper level balcony.

With the aim to improve safety and patrolling through upgraded facilities, the new works are intended to be completed before the start of the next season.

A development application for the broader vision to restore and expand the club has been granted by Coffs Harbour City Council. The existing building uses large amounts of energy and provides less than ideal living and working conditions for its occupants. Internal spaces are difficult to cool and heat, have poor lighting, poor ventilation, and solar penetration.

The Surf Club Refurbishment Project presents the opportunity to provide a much needed revitalisation of the existing site and surf club building, and transform it to create a landmark beachside destination with an iconic public building which contributes to its users safety, health, happiness, and well being.

The vision is to revitalise the existing Surf Life Saving Club facility to establish a valuable public asset of outstanding design and visual amenity- a safe and healthy environment for people to enjoy the surf, and interact with each other and the physical place around them.

Click on link for NBN news storey below.

FD+A 12 May 2019


New Interpretive Signage for Gleniffer Reserves

Bellingen Courier Sun, 3 April 2019

Bellingen Shire Council has installed new interpretive signage at the four reserves in the Gleniffer Valley, including Broken Bridge, Angel Gabriel Capararo, Arthur Keough and Earl Preston.

The signs aim to educate visitors, remind them to treat the area with the respect it deserves, and give them information about alternative locations.

“Not only do the signs make a beautiful addition to our reserves,” Mayor Dominic King said, “they also play a very important role in educating and dispersing our visitors. They aim to raise awareness on how special the natural environment is, give tips on how to protect the waterways, and emphasise the importance of respecting private property, as well as how to behave appropriately when visiting the valley.”

A key feature of the signs are QR codes which play a range of video content. “This technology enables council to promote other swimming spots across the shire,” added the Mayor. “The videos will aim to help reduce visitor numbers during peak periods by showcasing alternative locations like Dangar Falls in Dorrigo or our beautiful beaches at Urunga.”

Bellingen Shire Council’s investment in the signage project was supported by the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, via the 2018 Regional Tourism Fund.

Each sign provides different information across a range of themes from Indigenous culture and European history to native flora and fauna.

They also highlight the important conservation work that the Never Never Catchment Group and the local community has completed over the last 20 years to improve the natural environment and riparian zone.

The signs were developed and designed by local firm, Fisher Design and Architecture.

The Gleniffer Reserves Master Plan aims to provide a vision for the reserves and reflect our community’s creative spirit and environmental values. It aims to preserve and protect the natural environment while retaining a sense of place through the implementation of ideas and design solutions. The key strategies employed focus on: education, information, infrastructure and regulation.

Bellingen Council’s Gleniffer Interpretive Signage Launch

Gleniffer Interpretive Signage Launch- Wednesday 20th March

The official launch of the Regional Tourism Product Development Project- the Gleniffer Reserves Signage, was conducted at the Earl Preston Reserve, with attendees including Bellingen Mayor Dominic Knight, General Manager Liz Jeremy, Manager of Economic & Business Development
 Michael Grieve, Councillors and the Executive Committee.

Designed by Anna Fisher from Fisher Design and Architecture, and engineered by Chris Wood, structural engineer, the signs were constructed by the Bellingen Council building works team. Designed to withstand the flood prone environment, the signs aim to educate visitors, remind them to treat the area with the respect it deserves, and give them information about alternative locations.

An urban + country collaboration- Jan 2019 Architectural Bulletin Article

Architectural Bulletin Vol 75, Number 3, January 2019

Sitting at the drawing board in 2005, our Sydney practice of Mackenzie Pronk was about one year old. We were busy over-servicing our very local residential clients, we had a small baby in the office and not enough work. Our friends Anna and Christian from Fisher Design and Architecture had relocated to the Mid North Coast some years earlier. We had worked together at Tonkin Zulaikha Greer in the past; catch ups were brief and focused on some noisy Sydney watering hole.

Out of the blue Christian emailed us a brief – an EOI followed by a limited competition for National Parks – and it was due in a week. Without blinking or thinking we were working together again, exchanging emails of sketches, text and drawing files. We quickly devised a system of working together including operating the other’s mouse from 500 kms away during Skype calls. It felt like the remote working future had arrived.

Yet nothing beats being on the ground. I checked frequent flyer points and which airline would allow two surfboards and a design workshop was on. Work should be fun and life should triumph. We cruised the coast looking for the best waves, then with sandy feet in the Bellingen studio we worked till late, getting blurry and spilling wine on drawings.

Our partnership agreement was that we would aim to split all workloads and any fees 50–50, unless otherwise agreed. This has worked well for later projects, as have intensive periods working in the same room.

For a young Sydney practice, we enjoyed the broader range of projects, getting out of town and working with friends. For the guys up the coast on an acreage, teaming with a Sydney practice expanded the capacity of their office to aim for bigger projects.

In over a decade we have completed about ten projects together with few disagreements and now have a little bag of awards for the work we have done together. Pitching for work early on as ‘architects in association’ it seemed like a web of complexities may open up. We tested the waters with our insurers, lawyers and over time clients. There appeared no major barriers to working in this way. Sometimes with clients we worried that we might be seen as interlopers; other times Christian joked we were the grunt from the big city. But one thing we often noticed was a sort of pride from commissioners that a local firm was involved, but equally the project was important enough that a Sydney firm was also involved. It was a three-way win.

Our only real competitive angle for structuring our fees was that the client shouldn’t have to pay extra to have both practices working on a project. This meant we absorbed the cost of flights and when out of Sydney we slept on the very comfortable Bellingen studio floor – on reflection a very efficient practice.

Many regional centres in NSW are both expanding and being bypassed – a strange paradox. We Sydneysiders all know any number of design professionals who have sought refuge beyond the big smoke. Some find a different culture and expectations. By working collaboratively we have only dipped our toes into these realities in the regions. We did however grasp certain lifestyle benefits on offer and now feel a real connection to this area that we have been fortunate to have worked in.

Neil Mackenzie is a director of Mackenzie Pronk Architects, Sydney. They collaborated with Fisher Design and Architecture, Bellingen on the above design for Jetty4Shores Stage in Coffs Harbour. The bandstand won a commendation for Small Project Architecture in the 2018 Country Division Architecture Awards. Their Jetty4Shores Revitalisation Project with Coffs Harbour City Council also won the Urban Design Award.