The Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre serves a regional city of approximately 100,000 people and the region extending some five hours’ drive to the west. It brings together facilities for care/therapy/treatment which were previously located disparately across the city, and combines them with office, research and education spaces, community facilities and a Wellness Centre creating a one-stop shop for cancer care. The Centre links to the life and spirit of the community; easily accessible, non-intimidating, spatially familiar, warm, calming and soulful, and projects an image of the most up-to-date care in a clean, efficient and contemporary environment. The Centre reinvigorates an historic building and creates a new five storey glass tower which flanks a central waiting/meeting atrium space. This atrium acts as a town square in which all activity passes through and is visible. Drawing elements from the streetscape of the city including bluestone flooring and low height walls for seating and public art, the atrium is a familiar place for gathering, casual discussion and informal knowledge exchange. Changing weather conditions outside and passers-by become part of the daily activities as they are visible from within. Acoustically absorbent natural timbers line the walls and ceilings reducing ambient noise and providing a sense of peace to those in this space. The Ballarat Base Hospital building has stood at the corner of Sturt and Drummond Streets for over 100 years. In recent times it had fallen derelict as more modern buildings made it redundant. This project gives the existing building new life, reengaging with the street-life of the city by opening up to the community from Sturt Street, to create a Wellness Centre at the ground floor. The new glazed tower changes character through the day and with the seasons. Profiled aluminium fins cast shadows across the glass surface façade which reflects the clouds, sky, and trees around the facility. Prominently sited, and one of the tallest buildings in the city, its distinctive profile and surface patterning project an image of state-of-the-art care for the people of Ballarat and the region. Natural light is used throughout the facility to humanise and create an encouraging patient-friendly environment. Distinctive spaces are provided for morning sun, midday sun (light dappled by northern gardens), and evening light. The sculpted roof and ceiling forms draw natural light into the main spaces. By opening up the solid walls, using pendant lighting and loose furniture to separate functions rather than walls, the building is deinstitutionalised and spaces are created reminiscent of a large Ballarat country café or traditionally laid out country home.
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