Aranda Primary School

The project came about because we had to cut some large, unsafe gumtrees down in 2013. We were left with a concrete and asphalt waste land that was very hot and uninviting to play in. I have always been concerned that we were not using water efficiently at the school and when it rained the water simply ran off to the bottom corner of our grounds and into storm water. I spoke to some very clever people at Paul Barnett Design Group about water harvesting and away we went. The roof spaces at our school were ideal areas to harvest and use water more efficiently.

  • We have a strong focus on sustainability and natural sciences in our curriculum. The children were part of this project from the beginning.

  • They now have a living, growing example of water conservation and sustainable practices. The children participated in the project design.

  • Children have access to all areas of the garden once the plants are established.

  • The water is harvested from the library roof and then feeds into 2 very large underground trenches. The trenches hold the water for substantial periods of time until it rains again. The ground cover and trees will establish their root systems into the trenches.

  • We will not need to use an irrigation system – there is a dripper system in place in case of drought.

  • This will be a place of natural cover and beauty. 100 tonne of rocks were used during construction. More than $15k of ground cover and trees were planted. 

  • Great response from Aranda community.

  • Is an excellent outdoor learning space for the children.

  • We are about to begin a similar project on a smaller scale between our library and transportable classroom.

  • Most of the money for the project was raised by the school.

Paul Barnett Design Group were as enthusiastic about the project as we were. They worked with our community throughout design and construction and they continue to participate in our education programs today. Paul is part of the Aranda community now.

Principal Phil Gray
March 2016

Daramalan College

Daramalan College has used the services of the Paul Barnett Design Group for close to ten years during which time we have undertaken an extensive building and refurbishing program.

The architectural works undertaken by PBDG have included a new Science Wing that is being constructed during 2016, two replacement buildings for all Design and Technology subjects (including a Round 4 Trade Training Skills Centre that won an ACT Masters Builders Award in 2014), a large new canteen, student amenities and a Flexible Learning Centre as well as Hospitality facilities. Each of these specialised projects was designed to fit well within the physical surroundings and within our budget.

In recognition of the high quality and design of the projects, four of the projects were finalists in the ACT Master Builders Awards and two projects – the student amenities and the Lysaught Building -won awards.

The Paul Barnett Design Group is very skilled at working in a school setting. The buildings they design have a clear focus on environmental sustainability as well as artistic design features. There is a strong focus on using light effectively and creating a building that is contemporary yet sympathetic to the surrounding buildings.

The firm prides itself on listening to its clients and responding to their needs and priorities and we have found this to be our experience over many years of working closely with Paul and the team. There is a strong collaborative approach evident in their planning so that a large range of options are explored during the design process and fewer variations are required during construction.

The Paul Barnett Design Group has worked closely with the construction firm to achieve excellent outcomes for us.  At every stage during construction the architect has been readily available to liaise with the builders and resolve issues promptly and collaboratively.

We have been very pleased with the work the Paul Barnett Design Group has undertaken for us and would be happy to recommend them to you.

Rita Daniels
February 2016

Dorothy Broom

For several months after I bought the block where I planned to build, I researched and auditioned architects and designers. One after another, they showed that they couldn’t meet one or more of my essential criteria: environmental expertise, interest in building for ageing-in-place, ideas for a house that would be sympathetic with its old-inner streetscape, a portfolio of aesthetically appealing work, and a capacity to listen carefully and respect the client. Just when I was ready to give up and take my own rough plans to a drafting firm, a friend recommended I talk to Paul Barnett. Reluctantly I did so, assuming it’d be more of the same. But I knew – on the strength of that brief first conversation – that Paul would design my new home. I did not anticipate how much I would enjoy the process.

The experience was a delight from the beginning: fun and funny, full of ingenious assignments for me and endlessly imaginative responses from Paul. It was a process of self-discovery as well as creativity. Paul was unfailingly professional, scrupulous to explain exactly what PBDG would do and how much it would cost, breaking the project into coherent components, and never assuming that he had the commission for the next step just because he had done the previous one/s. He owned up to an error (transferring the surveyor’s data to the plans) and made good on it at his own expense since it affected the aspect of a passive-solar design. A less ethical practitioner could easily have slipped that by me and I would have been none the wiser.

His extensive network of top-notch craftspeople and engagement of a builder with high expectations of his sub-contractors all contributed to the grace and solidity of the house. Construction took a bit longer than anticipated, but of course it was worth the wait.

For most of the last decade, I have wakened each day grateful to live in a beautiful house that serves my needs for privacy and independence, even as it lets me offer hospitality to family and friends who come to stay and to groups who gather occasionally. It was an ideal setting in which to recover from major orthopaedic surgery, and I am confident it will once again be a supportive environment if I live to become frail.

I would change a few things if I had it to do again, but those are mostly my blunders, not bad advice from Paul. And if I had to do it again, I’d hire PBDG again in a heartbeat.

Dorothy Broom
February 2016

James and Susan Wishart

Hi Paul

Here's something I've wanted to say for so long: thank you so much for the work you did for us so long ago (maybe 13 years ago) on our house.

The secret was your maxim " before you think of extending, can you think of ways to make the existing space work better". You' d be surprised to learn how many times I have quoted you on that!

I am still appreciating the modest but deft changes you helped us make. These changes gave us the inspiration to keep going with our renovations gradually over the years (oh dear, we did slightly increase our footprint recently by making a walk-in closet for Susan and larger ensuite).

But we now have a home that in so many ways works better and reflects who we are, is much more environmentally responsible, and is aesthetically pleasing. It's also quirky, though perhaps not as quirky as your home when we saw it over a decade ago.

In appreciation

James ( and Susan ) Wishart