Designing with compassion

Monday, 15 April, 2024

Designing with compassion

When Anam Cara — a Geelong-based not-for-profit community service supporting people with life-limiting illness — outgrew its previous four-bedroom facility, its vision for the future was clear. To challenge traditional hospice designs and build “something very special” for the community.

From the beginning of the project more than six years ago, the team at Tectura Architects worked closely with the Anam Cara team to collaborate with the ACHG board staff, families, community organisations, volunteers, specialists and the builder, Nicholson Construction, to bring the project to life — they were all unified by their vision to provide people at the end of life with dignity and choice.

“The brief was clear — to deliver a Class 9A standard hospital within a dignified, home‐like environment as much as possible. The architectural response has transformed the philosophy of palliative care, shifting from a physical and pragmatic perspective to one that embraces emotional and spiritual intangibles. In other words, Tectura delivered a new health model based on guest‐focused care — rather than a medical or clinical base,” said Melika Grigg-Baycan, Director, Tectura Architects.

Located on the beautiful grounds of Deakin University, Waurn Ponds, the 20-bed Anam Cara House became possible with support from the local and philanthropic community and grants from the Victorian and Australian Governments.

The key features of the project include: 20 guest bedrooms with ensuites — large enough for family and pets to stay; hidden specialist equipment concealed within joinery, to feel like a real home; shared kitchen, living and dining areas; day palliative care area; library and community resource centre; community outreach office; spiritual area for cultural, belief and religious needs; and landscaped gardens, outdoor areas and walking paths.

“The 2ha site is located on historical land traditionally owned by the Wadawurrung people, with beautiful views to the valley below. At every opportunity, this connection to Country is cherished and celebrated as a foundation for care,” Grigg-Baycan said.

“The building features two long, linear wings that work with the gentle contours and fall of the land — the community hub and infrastructure wing is busy and captures sweeping views to the north. The more private residential, bed‐based wing sits to the south and embraces views of the surrounding hills and valley.

“The shape of the wings is an architectural expression symbolising the shape of Anam Cara’s logo — a pair of caring hands. They cradle the care activity and gardens within, sheltering a central library and interlinking internal courtyards while a garden weaves around the building,” Grigg-Baycan said.

Openings and connections are designed to enable each guest — not patient — to feel the therapeutic benefits of the sun and fresh air on their skin, where they can step or be wheeled outside and feel grounded to nature, look out to horizon views and to the rolling hills and enjoy the sense that the building wraps around them in support.

“Internally, the mass of the building is broken down into clusters to create a family‐friendly, human scale for all people inside. The corridors don’t feel like hospital thoroughfares, while the interiors feature carpeting, soft lighting and timber details. The day services are busy and provide community, resources and therapeutic services, while the quieter residential areas are separate and enhance privacy with careful zoning and planning to deliver a mix of intimate and semi‐private spaces. Here, the bedrooms are deliberately more spacious with materials that feel soft, light and warm in keeping with those in a home‐like space.

“Seamless timber joinery cleverly hides lifting hoist and medical equipment. Care and comfort are delivered through shared experiences and simple activities, which inspired the design of the adjoining shared lounges, kitchens and outdoor areas for guests and families to use. Guests can remain in their bedroom, head out to read in the library, enjoy a meal cooked with their family or go outside to the garden — choice is always the priority.

“Designed for the community, by the community, this is a project about human dignity and caring for our most vulnerable,” Grigg-Baycan said.

“In other words, we delivered a new health model based on guest‐focused care,” said Elizabeth Grigg, Principal, Tectura.

Related Articles

La Trobe Private Hospital reopens after redevelopment

La Trobe Private Hospital has reopened its doors following a complete redevelopment, giving...

Design that promotes healing and celebrates seasonal shifts

The Tumut Hospital redevelopment has delivered a fully integrated, modern health service to meet...

A redevelopment that blends history and modern design

Queensland Health and Cairns and Hinterland Hospital Health Services' $86.4 million...

  • All content Copyright © 2024 Westwick-Farrow Pty Ltd