Funded jointly with the Commonwealth Government of Australia, through the Health and Hospitals Fund, the Ballarat Community Health Primary Care Centre creates a new approach to delivering quality and affordable healthcare to the broader Ballarat and district community.
The conceptual design approach was to provide a healthy, stimulating environment based on a whole-of-life philosophy inspired by the benefits of contact with nature and community.
Both passive and active strategies have been integrated to engage on a mental and physical level with the underlying message of health promotion and sustainable design.
The fundamental organising idea for the site and building aimed to maximise the potential for the building to engage with the community. A central double-height atrium spine runs through the centre of the building, becoming a continuous experience of air, light and landscape. This landscaped spine provides a clear way through the building and defines a series of spaces for passive and active use.
A dramatic performance stair rises up at the end of the spine and supports a program of diverse and rich community events. The ability to open up adjacent multipurpose spaces allows the spine to expand or contract as required.
Externally a silhouette of roof-meeting-landscape was designed to integrate place and community, echoing both contextual and regional forms and providing a unique identity for Ballarat Community Health. Local materials including brick, recycled timber, metal deck cladding and polycarbonate are integrated in a contemporary way.
Internal spaces include opportunities for interactive displays, visual connection into activity-based spaces and elements that encourage physical engagement.
A spectrum of users from different generational and cultural backgrounds access the services provided, so it was important the building be welcoming and engaging. Nature was recognised as the common link between these diverse groups. Internal gardens, an enfolding timber pergola, paving and streetlights have been integrated throughout. Recycled timber and brick has been incorporated for its warmth and texture, to contrast with the clinical feel normally associated with healthcare facilities.
A highly collaborative, open client and project team was fundamental in achieving the quality of internal amenity. The design team challenged the initial briefed spaces and areas, resulting in a generous atrium and garden voids that have become the primary identity for the project. This was achieved within the original project budget.
The centre is home to a full suite of services including general practice, sexual health, podiatry clinics, multifunctional consultation rooms accommodating a range of health and wellbeing services, as well as a gymnasium, conference and meeting rooms, an independent café, and office facilities for over 100 staff.
Sustainability The sustainable design approach for the project was one that places people at the centre of the design. It is a design based on whole-of-life health – inspired by the benefits of contact with nature. Passive and active strategies have been integrated to engage both on a mental and physical level with the underlying social message of health promotion and sustainable design.
The building has been designed to blur the boundaries between indoors and outdoors. Internal gardens have been provided to maximise contact with nature and the environmental benefits that it brings.
A highly efficient and compact rectangular plan houses the two main levels. Standard building construction techniques of stud frames and timber roof trusses, brickwork and high levels of insulation combine to ensure an affordable approach to creating people focussed architecture.
The project includes the following initiatives:
Optimised Indoor Environment Quality – High daylight penetration; operable windows for natural ventilation and night purging; and a highly landscaped interior.
Energy efficiency – high efficiency lighting; sensor lighting to utility zones; high efficiency double glazing; and louvre windows controlled through a roof mounted weather station to purge warm/cold air and integrated through the heating and cooling system to isolate areas when windows are open.
Water efficiency – rainwater harvesting, 80,000 litre water storage tanks and re-use for toilet flushing and irrigation.
Sustainable transport solutions – cycling facilities for staff and building users including secure bike parking, and showers and lockers.
Renewable Energy Technologies – solar hot water heating; and a 25kw photovoltaic solar energy system.
Waste Recycling – on site building waste recycling; informative building waste recycling station within public zone; and an on site organic matter composting system.
Sustainable Materials – no or low VOC materials (carpets, paints and adhesives) specified; use of local materials, recyclable materials and materials containing recycled content.