2012 Melbourne Design Awards

Key Dates

Edithvale Wetlands Discovery Centre [DRAFT]

Image Credit : Tatjana Plitt Charles David Andrew Lloyd



Project Overview

Principle Design was commissioned by Melbourne Water to assist in developing a unique educational discovery centre in Edithvale. The Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands are all that remains of the Carrum Carrum Swamp that once covered more than 4000 hectares, stretching from Mordialloc in the north to Frankston in the south. In 2001 the Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands were listed as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention.

Project Commissioner

Melbourne Water

Project Creator

Principle Design


Sash Fernando, Jess McGeachin,
Francis Lim, Melanie Stow

Project Brief

Our brief was to create both a fun and engaging design whilst educating the students and visitors to the centre about the complex history and workings of the Seaford-Edithvale Wetlands and in particular it's role in the water-cycle.

Project Need

When we presented our initial ideas at the design concept presentation to the client, they were both stunned and intrigued at our proposed solution. It was interesting to see the clients’ reaction at our radical idea of printing on wooden boards at such a large scale. There were multiple elements to our proposed solution that were both new and untouched in our ideas for manufacturing; from the printing technique to the choice of print materials to be used.

We were not wanting to pursue the commonly used technique of simply producing a DCAL print that was to be overlaid onto the artwork surface, as widely produced when designing for large scale signage. We proposed using a UV Flatbed to print directly onto the raw surface of large wooden boards. This meant that the ink would be absorbed into the texture of the wood. This flagged quite a few things we needed to do, using thorough research and planning.

Design Challenge

Colour & Image Detailing
The detailing of the vector and photographic images were produced with a white spot base layer and then CMYK print over the top to ensure depth and definition in the images reproduced perfectly.

Wood Choice
Each type of wood has a different “Crown Cut” (the circular grain pattern which appears throughout the texture of a piece of wood). We needed to source the most suitable pieces of wood that had the best Crown Cut and therefore the best colour and texture to allow the printed graphics to sit beautifully and clearly defined when printed.

The Print
The print run involved two runs through the printer, the base layer of the white spot and the CMYK print run. As we were printing on over 13 boards in total, it was imperative that we got the print right. This included mastering the registration, colours and reproduction of the images. To ensure we got the print right, we did multiple test prints, which included testing with and without a white spot base.

The Varnish
The life-span of the exhibition installation was a vital factor to consider. To ensure this, it was important to select the best varnish for the job. We initially considered a silk varnish, but this reacted with the white spot and caused a bubbling effect on the surface. Our end solution was a 10% matt varnish giving a beautiful top coat and protecting the surface perfectly.


Principle Design is passionate about using sustainable design techniques and production in all of the projects we undertake, Edithvale was no exception. All of the wooden panels used in the project were domestically sourced from sustainably grown timber in Tasmania.

The discovery centre was designed by Minifie van Schaik Architects and has been designed with an exceptionally high standard of sustainability principles. The centre meets strict environmental standards including installing water tanks, composting toilets, solar panels and a rain garden.

While the sustainable building practices are fantastic, the most important environmental credential is the reason the discovery centre was designed – to educate children and adults about the beautiful Edithvale wetlands and the need to protect them. The value of environmental education is priceless and we're proud to support it in anyway we can.

This award recognises the intersection of communication design and the built environment, and is concerned with the visual aspects of wayfinding, communication identity and brands, information design and shaping the idea of place. Consideration given to clarity of communication and the matching information style to audience.

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