Roebourne Children and Family Centre has been designed to provide licensed child care places to mainly Aboriginal Families in the region. Additionally the family centre component supports community groups and organizations by providing a multi-purpose activity space, kitchen, crèche, and a counseling room and medical examination suite focussing on child and youth issues.
Historically childcare places are not taken up by Aboriginal families for a variety of reasons, but it is hoped that the involvement of the local families in the design and operation of this facility will change this. This project has been driven by local community consultation with the Ngarluma Yindjibarndi people and forms part of the strategies to rejuvenate Roebourne community by improving housing and infrastructure.
The facility is two simple rectangular forms, the Childcare Centre and the Family centre — linked by an undulating verandah that lowers the scale of the simple forms and acts as a wayfinding/place making element to the main highway.
The interiors of the pavilions are articulated by varying the ceiling heights and colors through the spaces to add interest. Windows change height to suit the children, colors, and materials vary to provide stimulation and wayfinding.
Externally the Childcare areas have roofed sandpits with water play features of simple timer taps and shower heads, along with grass and local native landscape areas. It is intended that these areas will be used to support the philosophy of “nature-play” which is founded on the understanding that unstructured play outdoors is fundamental to a full and healthy childhood.
The wider community is encouraged to use the facility after hours — including a strategy to engage with young people by providing a basketball court on the carpark for after hours public use.
Community involvement from the beginning of the brief development stages through to the documentation stage of the project provides for culturally appropriate design which suites the needs and desires of the local Ngarluma Yindjibarndi community.
This facility replaces an old Aboriginal Hostel which has strong memories for the people of Roebourne. A trace of the old hostel building is outlined in the landscaping planting and locations of feature stones and trees on the site.
Licensed Childcare facilities have strict programmatic requirements to meet the conditions of their license. These were augmented by the needs of the local community and by a pragmatic response to the severe conditions of the local micro-climate.
External activity areas are extensively shaded and located to catch cooling breezes and to be sheltered from the strong winds in the dry season. Sand pits and water features are under cover.
The health/counseling components of the brief are located at the far end of the Family Centre so users can approach this area without feeling like they are on display, while the toilet areas are located to provide a high level of passive surveillance by the operators to prevent undesirable behavior.
The separation of the pavilions allows for all functions to occur at the same time without disturbing the building users.