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Pam Buchanan Family Centre

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).

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).