Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Roebourne Children and Family Centre in Australia by Iredale Pedersen Hook Architects
February 3rd, 2015 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Iredale Pedersen Hook Architects
Conceptual framework: Underlying principles: values; core ideas; philosophy
Roebourne Children and Family Centre has been designed to provide licensed child care places to mainly Aboriginal Families in the region. Additionally the family centre component supports community groups and organisations by providing a multi-purpose activity space, kitchen, crèche, and a counseling room and medical examination suite focusing on child and youth issues.
Historically childcare places are not taken up by Aboriginal families for a variety of reasons, but it is hoped that the involvement of the local families in the design and operation of this facility will change this. This project has been driven by local community consultation with the Ngarluma Yindjibarndi people and forms part of the strategies to rejuvenate Roebourne community by improving housing and infrastructure.
The facility is two simple rectangular forms, the Childcare Centre and the Family centre- linked by an undulating verandah that lowers the scale of the simple forms and acts as a way finding/ place making element to the main highway.
The interiors of the pavilions are articulated by varying the ceiling heights and colours through the spaces to add interest. Windows change height to suit the children, colours and materials vary to provide stimulation and way finding.
Externally the Childcare areas have roofed sandpits with water play features of simple timer taps and shower heads, along with grass and local native landscape areas. It is intended that these areas will be used to support the philosophy of “nature-play” which is founded on the understanding that unstructured play outdoors is fundamental to a full and healthy childhood.
The wider community is encouraged to use the facility after hours- including a strategy to engage with young people by providing a basket-ball court on the carpark for after hours public use.
Community involvement from the beginning of the brief development stages through to the documentation stage of the project provides for Culturally appropriate design which suites the needs and desires of the local Ngarluma Yindjibarndi community.
Relationship of Built Form to Context: Concepts engaged with new and pre-existing conditions
This facility replaces an old Aboriginal Hostel which has strong memories for the people of Roebourne. A trace of the old hostel building is outlined in the landscaping planting and locations of feature stones and trees on the site.
Program Resolution: Functional performance assessed against the brief
Licensed Childcare facilities have strict programmatic requirements to meet the conditions of their license. These were augmented by the needs of the local community and by a pragmatic response to the severe conditions of the local micro-climate.
External activity areas are extensively shaded and located to catch cooling breezes and to be sheltered from the strong winds in the dry season. Sand pits and water features are under cover.
The health/counseling components of the brief are located at the far end of the Family Centre so users can approach this area without feeling like they are on display, while the toilet areas are located to provide a high level of passive surveillance by the operators to prevent undesirable behavior.
The separation of the pavilions allows for all functions to occur at the same time without disturbing the building users.
Our benchmarks for sustainable design were based on the “triple-bottom-line” approach- that is Economic, environmental and social sustainability. During the design stage we utilised the GBCA’s Greenstar Draft Public Buildings tool as a reference document to plan our sustainability response to the project.
The “social sustainability” outcomes for this project will be only truly be evidenced after a period of operation, however we believe that the detailed community consultation with the Ngarluma Yindjibarndi families and organisations have led to a culturally responsive design that balances the requirements of the Code and licensing rules with the needs and desires of the local community. This will lead to a sense of local ownership and involvement in the center during its operation.
We have responded to the social conditions of Roebourne with dignity- passive surveillance allows for “Cultural Surveillance” and also discourages undesirable activates in the facility. The building is fenced and is robust but does not look institutional or unwelcoming. The landscaping traces the outline of the old Aboriginal Hostel where many members of the community grew up.
The environmental features included rehabilitation of the contaminated site by removing contaminated soil, the increase in biodiversity on site by reinstating local native plant species, minimising energy use via heat pump HWS, energy efficient lighting.
We applied research gleaned from the West Kimberley Regional Prison to minimise heat loads on windows, and to allow for breeze paths through the building with ceiling sweep fans when the weather is mild to minimise energy use.
Economically the facility has been designed with a low Life-cycle cost. Materials have been selected for their durability and low maintenance requirements.
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