Women’s Health and Family Services

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Women’s Health and Family Services is a not-for-profit organisation providing medical and clinical services, counseling, information, community talks and workshops, referral and outreach to women in Western Australia. WHFS was the first women’s health centre established in WA and has been providing health care to women for over thirty years.

After years of fundraising and bureaucratic hurdles, CODA were engaged as architects to realise a new facility on land seeded to the organisation by the East Perth Redevelopment Authority. The site provided many challenges from the outset: 2 Queen Anne cottages, a heritage warehouse and an electrical substation on a corner block of 887sqm. These restrictions demanded careful planning and a deep understanding of the range of services offered by the organisation to exploit overlaps and minimise the amount of underutilised spaces.

Externally the building uses a subdued palette of familiar and domestic materials. Alongside its existing heritage fabric, face brickwork, steel and recycled timber embue this building with a domestic, approachable quality. Colour is the critical binding element throughout the project interior. It works to unite 3 previously separate buildings and provides the diverse groups that it services with ease of movement throughout the building. The colour palette is light, bright and cheerful, particularly when combined with the warmth of the exposed natural materials. It is unlike an expected clinical environment of a medical and counseling centre, and instead is a space that presents as inclusive and uplifting.

In 2011, the project successfully achieved a 4 Star Green Star rating and in July 2012 it received a Commercial Architecture Award at the Australian Institute of Architecture Awards (WA Chapter).