Pam Buchanan Family Centre

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This project was won through invited tender in October 2009 when CODA was selected by the Karratha K2020 panel to provide architectural services for a new family centre at Baynton West. The Pam Buchanan Family Centre was commissioned in response to the change in focus of mining companies and government towards the creation of permanent communities in mining towns of the North-West.

Built in a category D cyclone zone, the building responds to the dramatic shifts in weather conditions from intense heat to torrential rain and the very real possibility of cyclones. These extreme climatic conditions mean that people largely move around by car, rely heavily on air-conditioning and minimise daytime outdoor activity.

The various elements of the building are ringed via a continuous roof creating deep, covered outdoor play spaces and a sheltered interior courtyard. The courtyard is activated through the passage of pedestrians from one function to another. The material palette was selected based on environment, cyclonic rating and the capacity to be easily constructed on site and within budget. The Colorbond external skin of the building provides a dramatic backdrop for the feature cut outs and courtyard interior.

Colour brings light and surprise to the exterior of the building and works to build a lush constructed interior to the central courtyard.  From the street the painted roof cut outs whimsically signal points of entry and activity.  Within the protected courtyard space luscious greens cool and enliven, creating a complete visual break from the striking red pindan of the surrounding environment.

We believe the key move toward a sustainable environment is creating a building that will encourage families to live in Karratha. This project demonstrates that it is possible to enjoy life outside, away from air conditioning, through the creation of large, protected and ventilated outdoor spaces.  Within these spaces families play, talk and connect with their community.

The Pam Buchanan Family Centre received a commendation in the Public Architecture category of the 2012 AIA Awards (WA).