How I led a cross-functional team to deliver a new, permanent site for community engagement

  • Business case development
  • Creative project management
  • Visitor experience design
  • Leadership and people management
  • Science communication

Timing: Jan 2012 – Mar 2013

The challenge

Floor plan
An early floor plan

An architecturally designed visitor’s centre was always part of the master plan for the Adelaide Desalination Plant. However, by the time the building had been completed there were no plans for use of building beyond receiving visitors to the Plant.  There was no funding allocated to this and to make it work the content of the centre needed to be able to work for a diverse audience – from primary school students to visiting scientists and engineers.


My role

Design for our sustainability themed pod

I saw an opportunity to create a multi-purpose site that could be used for community engagement and interpretation and developed a business proposal to create a new interpretive centre within the existing building. I was successful in securing funding for the project and then led the team, a multidisciplinary group of designers, communicators, fabricators, developers and education specialists,  to develop content and launch the Kauwi Interpretive Centre in March 2013. I also developed, and wrote, much of the content in collaboration with our partners. The Kauwi Centre is designed to work as a multi-use space. It includes five information pods equipped with touch-screens displaying a range of interactive digital content. Themes explored include the science of desalination, SA Water’s history, drought and sustainability and marine health.  Content is also aligned to the national curriculum with the help of a teacher seconded into my team from the Department of Education and is designed to prompt inquiry-based learning across the space.

Impact and value

Screen shot from one of our interactive games "Operation Desal'
Screen shot from one of our interactive games “Operation Desal’

The Kauwi Centre still operates today as part of SA Water’s education and community engagement programs. Thousands of visitors attend the site annually and continue to rate the experience highly. One of the serious games we built as content for the touchscreens, ‘Operation Desal’, has also won several Australian and International awards.


What I learnt

  • The impact of empowering creative people to create without restraint (and how to support them to do that)
  • The power of letting people choose what they are passionate about and letting them work on that – this project consisted of lots of smaller activities that allowed members of my team space to manage and deliver their passion projects.
  • How to design for physical spaces – specifically the importance of story boarding, walk-throughs and role-playing to understand how users will move about a space that isn’t built yet.