SECCA Office

secca is a non-profit organisation designed to support people with disabilities, in their efforts to learn about human relationships, sexuality and sexual health across their lifespan. CODA were engaged to provide a schematic design for a new office fit out for secca, currently located in the City West Lotteries House in West Perth.

The proposal aspires to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment for staff and visitors. The intent was to utilize warm tones and natural materials to create an inspiring workplace and an inviting, private and safe space for patients.

A plywood hood wraps around the office, providing much needed storage space for the staff of the organisation.

Fremantle Arts Centre Reception Area

The Fremantle Art Centre, City Of Fremantle (FAC) is located in the heritage listed Lunatic Asylum built in 1864. The departure of the Immigration Museum from the site freed up several spaces for the FAC and opened up opportunities to reimagine its visitor experience.

The original brief called for the design of a reception desk within a newly acquired room at the heart of the building. We saw opportunities to expand on this to review and explore the potentials for the space in the context of the whole institution. This small project mediates between the heritage fabric of the building, the port side history of the place and the contemporary art programme and classes, welcoming everyone to the centre.

Through a simple, elegant and cost effective set of moves we were able to reposition the way in which visitors first experience the FAC, touching the building fabric with only a few small fixings.

From the outset we sought to offer a contemporary interpretation of the surrounding portside environment.

As a tiny project on a tiny budget, we needed to embrace and elevate the way the simple palette of formply, plywood, steel and acrylic could work together as interior finishes.

The massive cylindrical form of the reception desk runs parallel to the length of the space, contrasting with the linearity of the existing envelope. The new display plinths have been fabricated from DD-grade ply and are set on moveable castors. The natural grain of the ply is reprinted on the plinths in a “larger than life” playful nod to the material. They have been developed with an interlocking system that allows the space to be refreshed and adapted according to the needs of the centre.

The subtle shifts in spatial use within a single room have been arranged through careful planning.  Through consultation with the client we extended the brief for a reception desk to include the relocation of the bookshop.  We felt that this simple move would assist in furnishing the space, making it feel inhabited and would also have the benefit of increasing book sales and revenue.

The desk, bookshelves and plinths have been fabricated from a robust palette of recyclable natural materials, again referencing the port city.  Most elements of the project require minimal fixing and are able to be removed without damage to the existing building fabric.

Contrasting this are highly coloured, glossy acrylic elements that act much like maritime signals and tie in with the recent re-branding of the FAC. These elements create a dynamic and changeable interior, acting as a backdrop to displays.

Great projects are only possible with great clients. We worked closely with the Director and Manager of the Centre to understand their needs and communicate our ideas.

The project was achieved within the $70,000 budget. Through careful selection of materials and simple fabrication methods we were able to exceed the client’s original desire for a desk and instead develop a scheme that addressed the entire space.

PMH Psychological Medicine Reception Area

In 2011, CODA were approached by the Psychological Medicine Department at Princess Margaret Hospital to improve their waiting space and shift it from the generic sofa and toddler toys that are typical of a hospital waiting space to something that engaged with the diversity of the users of the space.

The waiting area is constantly occupied and often requires children and adolescents to wait for up to an hour while their parent attends an appointment. Our initial brief development meetings with the client allowed us to experience firsthand the space and observe these users. The need for adolescents to have some independence from parents was immediately obvious.

The project had two major constraints that ultimately lead to the opportunities of the project.  Firstly the site area was extremely constrained and very little, if anything could be done to the fabric of the interior space. Secondly, the project had a total budget of $6000 including toys.

Through the removal of a single partition wall we were able to take over a small, disused space and create an L-shape to work within. The scheme itself inserts an object into the centre of this space, away from the walls, creating a continuous ribbon of activity that spans the range of ages of the client base whilst allowing for age appropriate levels of adult supervision.

Execution of this tiny project would not have been possible had it not been for the generosity and collaborative nature of the people who ultimately delivered it. Carpet and rubber were donated, ply was discounted and rooms were painted. The Subiaco Men in Sheds donated their time and over several weeks and in addition to the painting, tackled the complex geometries of the plywood modules and the necessity for on-site assembly.

This project reinforces the importance of architecture at every scale and the generosity of people to make a real difference through small, incremental improvements.

In July 2012, the PMH Psychological Medicine Reception Area received a Commendation in the Small Project category at the Australian Institute of Architects Awards (WA).

CODA Studio

Our new studio re-pitches the practice from “home office” to medium size  in the heart of Fremantle.

It was really important to us to maintain and enhance the warmth and familiarity of the previous studio space whilst creating a flexible, open, dynamic workspace using natural, non-traditional materials.

From the outset we established that all new insertions should be recyclable and removable at the end of the project life without damage to the building.

The project demonstrates that it’s possible to create a sophisticated professional workspace, moving away from highly manufactured materials toward a robust natural palette that seeks out texture, warmth and celebrates imperfection. This is not a token gesture but forms the logic for the entire fit out.

Basic construction materials are reframed expressing both their materiality and assembly. The new timber stair binds the two levels together, spatially and materially, with the open plan workspace upstairs and the lower level given over to social spaces for meeting and amenity.

New ply insertions are read against the backdrop of the existing warehouse. The stair edge thickens on the upper level to house the job files, maintaining views over and through the stairwell as you circulate about the upper level.

Colour plays an important and subtle role in binding together the elements of the new studio, contrasting and enhancing the warmth of the exposed materials.

We believe that contemporary workspaces should invite individual participation in the creation of the work environment. The studio creates a backdrop for these choices, allowing lighting levels and thermal comfort to be assessed individually. Though the sourcing of vintage furniture we were able to reduce the number of resources required to complete the project.

Plasterboard and laminate were not specified in the project; even the desks and storage were fabricated from ply and steel.

Additionally recycled elements such as the barn door, concrete cisterns and vintage furniture were incorporated into the design. This has the dual benefit of achieving a more sustainable project but also embedding a sense of history through their tactility and imperfection.

In 2012, this project received an Interior Architecture commendation at the AIA Awards and the Australian Interior Design Award for Best of State (WA) Commercial Design.

Horse Barn

Our pro bono program enables our entire practice to engage in voluntary work to assist community-based groups to pursue or complete projects for their organisation. This program helps strengthen social responsibility as a core value of our business.

In 2008 we heard that a residential drug and alcohol facility was looking to build a horse barn in order for their clients to help rehabilitate abused horses. We approached them to offer both our design and ‘construction’ services. We sought to reuse as many of the materials as we could from the farm itself and develop a construction system that could be executed by a group of enthusiastic but largely untrained ‘builders’.

The total budget for the project was $7000 or $25/m. The existing structure was largely maintained and strengthened. Steel tracks from a previous hydroponic tomato system were reused to provide the structural components for walls and barriers. Within these a system of painted panels were inserted creating spaces for grooming and training, as well as additional accommodation for other animals such as goats. Colours were selected for their capacity to be both uplifting and soothing for the residents. External cladding provides increased weather protection.

The project achieved a triple bottom line in sustainability objectives through extremely economical construction, recycling and adapting existing spaces and community and social interaction.

This project received a Small Projects Commendation at the 2009 AIA Awards.