Think Brick Award

CODA’s entry for the About Face 2009 Awards is now available online for viewing and, of course, we’d love your VOTE!

Have a look at the About Face Awards 2009 website and navigate to CODA.

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CODA aims to provide a comprehensive solution to youth homelessness in Mandurah, 70 kilometres south of Perth, by offering various types of accommodation and onsite support for residents, say architects Kieran Wong and Emma Williamson.

“Homelessness is a big problem in Mandurah and other parts of WA and a lot of our projects are examining ways of combining training, support and mentoring, all wrapped around a housing network,” Wong says.

“We want to design buildings and sites that act like a timeline, from a highly supported and structured environment such as a hostel, all the way through to being housed individually,” he explains. “We think of the project as being like a ladder and every rung has a different style of accommodation.”

The Mandurah scheme consists of four building types and stages, starting with the hostel on the south west corner which contains ensuite hostel rooms, groups of four hostel rooms and one-bedroom units. It also features meeting, therapy and lecture rooms, a resource and internet lounge, staff accommodation, a commercial kitchen and café for training and small retail spaces.

Community Hall

Commercial tenancies on the south east corner could be leased to residents or others to generate income for the site operator. On the eastern boundary, the community centre features a community hall, while to the north a cluster of affordable housing units with home office capacity is sited around communal gardens. The site is landscaped to include the hostel’s kitchen garden, community garden allotments, basketball courts on parking lots, playing fields, playgrounds and spaces for sitting, reading and relaxing, where residents and neighbours can engage and interact.

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Wong says that bricks are integral to the success of the scheme, because of their powerful positive connotations. “The great thing about brick is it acts as a binding element across a range of building types and imparts a sense of permanence and solidity that is reassuring in this type of environment,” Wong says. However, he laments the loss of technique and patterning from older brick buildings and the fact that stretcher bond is the only bricklaying pattern taught to contemporary bricklayers.

“There is a great wealth of brick techniques in Federation suburbs: there used to be multiple ways of laying bricks, but most of that craft has disappeared as a result of the modularisation of the material,” Williamson explains. “We started to wonder whether we could reintroduce patterning to brickwork – without using pixelation which is labour intensive and therefore expensive – by using a standard brick and the stretcher laying technique.”

Working with a Midland Brick, CODA developed an extruded brick that can be laid in different ways to simulate different bonding patterns. “We’ve done a lot of patterning of brick buildings and builders find it complex and time consuming,” Wong laughs. “But using this extruded brick produces a similarly rewarding result for much less effort.”

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By thinking laterally about all the elements that are necessary to help homeless people to get back on their feet and harnessing the reassuring qualities of brick to unify a range of buildings and functions across the site, CODA’s design aims to elevate young people in need, literally and metaphorically.

For more detail head to our PROJECTS section on the CODA website