Category Archives: Blog

Presentation tools for BIM models

  • Independent Living Units - BIM vs Rendered image
  • Independent Living Units - Rendered image
  • Independent Living Units - Rendered image
  • Nazareth Catholic College - Caritas Building
  • Nazareth Catholic College - Caritas Building
  • Nazareth Catholic College - Caritas Building

Beautiful renders can really capture the atmosphere of a project and help show the client not only what their project will look like but also how the virtual space can become a useable one. But for many of our projects, spending hours on competition style rendering or the cost of outsourcing is just unrealistic.

In times past, smaller projects have been left with flat elevations and renders that can make it difficult to convey our true design intent to the client. It’s easy for us to imagine and trust in our vision for a building, but the process of client consultation can really benefit from the client sharing in this.

Over the past year we’ve found plug-in programs to be immensely useful for quick and easy render production. Creating convincing images and walk-throughs without the need to spend hours on settings, materials and editing, our plug-ins create rendered images in real-time using graphics from your BIM material library.

From fast white card models, to realistic rendering; this tool allows the client to gain a greater understanding of our designs – what they see is what they’ll actually get. The panoramas and whole model walk-throughs allow for a far more immersive experience and can be used to easily and accessibly bring VR into small projects.  It also means the rendered images are always easily updated as the BIM model changes.

News from Russell & Yelland

As we start 2018  we are thankful for the past year working on a number of interesting projects, and significant additions to the wider Russell & Yelland “family”.
Construction is about to commence on the new Caritas Building at Nazareth Catholic College, our third major project on the Flinders Park site. In October the Nautilus Centre was opened at Concordia College, which combines Science, Art, Maths and other STEM subjects in a new two-storey complex which has already won an Award of Excellence in the IESANZ SA/NT lighting awards. A number of our government STEM projects have now been completed and the remainder are in construction. We completed a number of school Master Plans, and are currently designing a range of new Aged Care projects for Whyalla Aged Care. St Josephs Boarding House in Pt Lincoln was completed within the tight deadlines ready for the new school year. A new music centre for Cabra College is scheduled to start construction in the new year, and we are undertaking a number of projects in regional hospitals. The new Galilee Administration building also won a commendation in the LEA SA Regional Awards.
We welcomed Scott Murdoch to our staff in March, and Jessica Weiland, who had worked with us whilst studying, to full-time employment in November. Vouch returned from maternity leave in January, and Lauren Knight started her maternity leave in May – she’s back one day a week now but 3-4 days a week next year.
Our yearly cooking event, “Vouch’s Kitchen”,  was supposed to be a housewarming for Stewart and Mia– except the host family was absent for the entire event, spending the evening in Casualty with a daughter suffering trampoline injuries. As well as regular Whyalla visits this year, Heather hosted the Parlour Instagram account for a week. Parlour is a group dedicated to gender equity in architecture, and our staff’s contribution was well received. Hariklia’s post on site etiquette was also chosen for a pop-up exhibition on women in architecture in Melbourne.Scott, Rhiana and Anthea got to throw their hats in the air when graduating from the University of Adelaide in April this year. The next big hurdle will be Registration as Architects in a few years time!


We seem to have been inundated with babies this year! Lauren and David’s daughter Tessa was born in June; Lindsay and Dan’s Miranda in September; Craig and Pippa’s son Reuben and Will and Kimberley’s son Hugh in September! In addition Alistair and John became grandfathers again.

Michelle took on a huge workload this year as we rolled out new practice management systems. She is dreaming about the new caravan and the chance to visit the Kimberleys mid next year.

As is usual, we have made a donation to the Australian Refugee Association in lieu of sending cards.
Our office will be closed from noon on Friday 22nd  December and will reopen on Monday  8th  January. You can text or call John Held on 0417 840 337 during the break if required.

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The State of Virtual Reality in Architectural Practice – 2017 Part One – Where we are

At Russell and Yelland we have been working with Virtual Reality for a year now. We would like to share some of our experiences and lessons from this journey which we see as the early days of VR.

The term Virtual Reality is an oxymoron; it is the combination of unreal ‘virtual’ and real ‘reality’. Virtual in this context is the computer simulation of what our senses perceive to be the world around us: that is, Reality. From its beginning VR hardware has looked like a bulky, cumbersome set of goggles.    While the technology is evolving it’s appearance has not changed much.

VR is not a new thing but recently there has been renewed interest and big name technology companies are jumping on board.

There are two key factors which recently arrived and made Virtual Reality accessible for architectural firms such as Russell and Yelland. We already had the first piece of the puzzle, the virtual 3D model, because this is part of our regular architectural design workflow.

The recent innovations which have been able to plug into our architectural practice are;

  1. VR hardware, now accessible, user friendly and at a level of quality able to provide an immersive experience.
  2. Real-time rendering software, aka a ‘gaming engine’ that runs in our regular design environment.

A life-like experience where one can move around the environment requires a powerful computer to perform the real-time graphics processing to update the view corresponding to every movement the user makes. The hardware providing the best experience right now is a ‘head tracking virtual reality headset’; the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the two products which have created the recent VR sensation. These headsets both launched consumer products in 2016. Both plug into a desktop computer and require additional sensors placed around the user to translate real world movement into the virtual environment. The VR hardware acts as both the screen and the input (keyboard/mouse), movements of the users head are translated to input commands for the virtual environment.

The virtual environment must respond instantaneously to the actions of the viewer to create a convincing reality. Without the recent development of graphics technology and ‘gaming engines’ we would have to wait hours for CAD software to render a single realistic image. While not a super realistic representation, what the gaming engines lack in detail they make up for with speed. Real-time speed. Using our regular design software we are now able to plug-in a gaming engine and see our digital models in a life-like view while; moving through them, working on a design or trying different options.

The graphic output required to present an immersive VR experience is beyond anything we require regular video to provide and it all comes down to the frame rate. Typically a video can look seamless at 24 frames per second but when you introduce head tracking (the ability for the viewpoint of the scene to move in relation to the users movements) the frame rate demand skyrockets. A typical video feed at 24 frames per second, strobes as you turn your head, leaving gaps of darkness in the path of your glance. This is referred to as ‘latency’, not only does latency disrupt the immersion of the scene it is also a cause of motion sickness. The output recommended for a realistic experience with a motion tracking VR headset is 90 frames per second (FPS) and that is per eye, as there is a unique image sent to each eye. Comparing that to the movie industry standard of 24, a quality VR experience is asking the PC to output a total of 180 FPS which is 7.5 times more images than a movie presents its viewers with. Even The Hobbit movie which created fanfare with its “High Frame Rate” of 48 FPS is not even a third of this frequency. With that perspective it is not surprising you need a very powerful PC to produce this graphic output.

Such a setup is not very portable, though we did take the whole kit to Brompton Primary School for a media event (as pictured), it is not something you would want to assemble every meeting. At a minimum it required; 5 power outlets, the desktop PC, the PC monitor, two independent sensors plugged in and on tripods and the headset link box. We also set up a projector so the students not wearing the headset could see what was happening in the virtual environment.

With all of the setup, bulk and cables between everything including from the users headset to the PC we have still found the experience and comprehension of a design to be unequalled by any other presentation method. There have also been a spectrum of ways we can share these experiences with varying dependence on technology.

Stay tuned for part two to hear what else we have been up to!

Concordia Nautilus Centre wins IESANZ SA/NT lighting Award of Excellence

  • Concordia Nautilus Centre - upper breakout zone
  • Concordia Nautilus Centre
  • Concordia Nautilus Centre - stairwell
  • Concordia Nautilus Centre
  • Concordia Nautilus Centre

This project recently won an IESANZ SA/NT lighting Award of Excellence.

The judges stated:
“It was evident from the street as soon as we arrived at the site that this was going to be something special. An excellent example of project coordination between all design partners – architect, interior designer, engineer, lighting designer and client. The integration of architecture and lighting is exceptional. The attention to detail by all involved (including the electrical contractor is first-rate. All involved in this project should be commended on an excellent result.”

Project Architects: Emily Chalk & Craig Buckberry, Russell & Yelland
Lighting Designers: Robert Bartosik & Anthony Davidson, Secon Consulting Engineers

Galilee Catholic School Administration Centre receives Award

  • Galilee Catholic School Administration Building
  • Galilee Catholic School Reception Area
  • Galilee Catholic School Staff Room
  • Galilee Catholic School Reception Area

The new Administration Building at Galilee Catholic School at Aldinga received a Commendation in the recent inaugural Learning Environments Australasia SA Regional Awards.

The Building includes reception, staff, parish and community facilities.

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Buildings that contribute to a longer life

As architects we interpret the brief into a built form for our clients.

What we miss sometimes is how our buildings interface with their surroundings and community. The idea of the perfect home in suburbia does not necessarily provide opportunities for social interaction and congregation, as they may be far from businesses, public spaces and services.

This interesting short talk is food for thought on how social interaction and life style contributes to people’s longevity in life.

This talk sparked my interest on how we, as designers, can help to contribute to people’s social life through our buildings.

I am particularly keen to see how in our current aged care projects we can better provide social interaction to reduce the feeling of loneliness for residents.

How can we activate shared spaces?

How can we make spaces more inclusive?

How can we encourage social interaction?

How can our design make people happier?

These are just a few of the questions we need to consider and incorporate in our work.

John Held Awarded Presidents Medal

At this years South Australian Institute of Architects Awards, Director of Russell and Yelland Architects John Held was awarded the 2017 Sir James Irwin President’s Medal.
The Sir James Irwin President’s Medal is the highest accolade offered by the Australian Institute of Architects within South Australia.
When delivering the award current SA chapter president Mario Dreosti’s noted John’s contribution to industry “which has demonstrated core professional values of innovation in technologies, collaboration in our thinking, and in a willingness to lead and deliver vast amounts of voluntary contribution to the benefit of our whole industry”
The Sir James Irwin President’s Medal is awarded each year to a member or industry collaborative considered by the President to have made a significant contribution to architecture. It was established in 1992 through the generosity of the Irwin family in memory and in recognition of the services to architecture of Sir James Irwin. Previous recipients include Francesco Bonato, John Morhphett AM, OBE, LFRAI, John Schenk LFRAIA, Susan Phillips and Michael Pilkington.
A copy of the full citation can be found here

Step up, don’t step back…

Is stepping up to the small stuff also the path to improving the profession’s wider role in society?

In recent weeks I’ve heard some horror stories of projects going wrong. I don’t know all the details (and thankfully they are not our own projects) but there seems to be a common thread in many of them of architects simply not stepping up.

At the same time I’ve been reading about the architect’s role in society. Indy Johar, for example, states that for architects to have relevance “we must realign to focus  on all citizens and all their needs; not the construction and real estate industry  who are only a means for making our environment”.  He talks about both social and spatial justice to allow all citizens to flourish.

How are these connected? Is it because, in both cases, architects don’t step up?

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2016 – the year in review


2016 has been a good year for Russell & Yelland. Significant projects included the new Science and Administration facilities under construction at Concordia College, with the administration building and the St. Johns Canopy complete; work commencing on the new Caritas Building at Nazareth Catholic College, Flinders Park, and the Boarding House at St Josephs School Port Lincoln nearing completion. We undertook a number of projects in Whyalla, including completion of the Cedar Wing at Yeltana Nursing Home, a major feasibility study for future secondary schooling in Whyalla (in association with Phillips Pilkington Architects), and planning studies for STEM facilities for four Whyalla primary schools. We are working on another three of these STEM projects, with the Minister for Education, Dr Susan Close, celebrating the commencement of construction of the Brompton Primary project with a Virtual Reality tour of the new facility. This VR technology is changing the way we can experience design – we are very excited about future opportunities in this area!Other projects included completion of school projects at Galilee and St John Bosco Catholic schools; a number of projects in country hospitals including a new renal & dialysis facility at the Gawler Hospital, and a large number of public housing schemes. The new Renown Park Preschool is under construction, and we undertook master planning for Nazareth and Woodcroft College campuses. Our UniSA Mt. Gambier Learning Centre (in association with GMB Architects) won awards from Learning Environments Australasia and the MBA.

In June we farewelled Alex Clothier, who has moved to Sydney, and Dan Schumann who returned to Flightpath Architects.  We welcomed Rhiana Bell and Anthea Marshall in November following their graduation from Adelaide University – both have previously worked with us as students. We also have Jess Weiland, a fourth year student, working with us at present.

We’ve also welcomed Tara, a daughter to Jeremy and Vouch, and Connor, a son for Stewart and Mia. We’ve kept our cooking skills sharp with a “how to make gnocchi” night at Craig’s house. Alistair and Stewart are both still building their houses, Craig and Pippa bought a barn in Mt Barker and Will and Kim a renovator’s special– whilst John’s happy for a couple of weeks overseas in January instead.

As is usual, we have made a donation to the Australian Refugee Association in lieu of sending cards.
Our office will be closed from noon on Thursday 22nd  December and will reopen on Monday  9th  January. You can contact John Held on 0417 840 337 until the 3rd January and Craig  Buckberry on 0401 393 706 for the remainder of the break if required.

We’d like to thank our team, clients, and colleagues for the opportunity to make great places and we wish you all a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Brompton Primary School STEM

In July 2016 the SA Government announced a stimulus package for the creation of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) facilities in 139 public schools across South Australia.

Construction of the Brompton Primary School STEM project commenced in December 2016 with a site visit from the Minister for Education and Child Development, the Hon. Susan Close. It will be one of the first of the STEM Works projects to be completed.

The design aims to encourage hands-on making and open-ended creative investigations.The robust finishes and open-plan workshop feel will show that the space is not ‘precious’ – it’s there to be used and it’s okay to make a mess!

The children will be the ‘star of the show’, with many locations for displaying and celebrating their work. Almost every surface will be interactive, including the ceiling, which is designed for hanging things from. Wall surfaces will used for display, storage, creation and collaboration, via a lego wall, pegboards, slat wall and whiteboards.

The four zones in the STEM space are denoted by different flooring, but are all interconnected, allowing multiple patterns of use. The dark room space is more formal, used for presentations, demonstrations, green-screen work and light experiments. The timber structure around the dark room is designed to with exposed connections to show how it was assembled.

The STEM space will connect to the courtyard and the veggie garden, as well as into the classrooms to the north. STEM will not be a ‘special’ activity but a normal part of the school day, easily accessible and highly visible.

To visualise this project in 3D, click on the image below to jump into a panoramic 3D representation. Each label will take you to a different view.


If you have a smartphone and want a more immersive experience you can equip yourself with a viewer such as the google cardboard and rotate your phone to have the views formatted in stereoscopic.
Minister for Education, Dr. Susan Close, takes a virtual tour through Brompton Primary's new STEM facility
Minister for Education, Dr. Susan Close, takes a virtual tour through Brompton Primary’s new STEM facility


Brompton Primary School's Principal, Tina Treffers, with the Minister for Education, Dr. Susan Close, and students
Brompton Primary School’s Principal, Tina Treffers, with the Minister for Education, Dr. Susan Close, and students


Brompton Primary School - the "darkroom"
Brompton Primary School – the dark room