- Article by Clémence Carayol
Last month, we announced the IDEA 2022 winners at The Timber Yard in Melbourne.
The prestigious Community Services award, sponsored by Zenith, went to practice Scott Carver for its refurbishment of the Wesley Edward Eagar Centre (WEEC), which supports the reintegration of vulnerable residents into the community by promoting dignity and well-being.
Heritage conservation and interior interventions embody the centre’s core principles of ‘home’ and ‘place’ – and the Wesley Mission: “To do all the good we can because every life matters.”
The comfort of and respect for guests are at the heart of the design.
After this beautiful and well-deserved win, Scott Carver director Angela Biddle had a chat with ADR about the exciting opportunities awaiting the practice.
ADR: What did it mean for you to win the Community Services award for IDEA 2022?
Angela Biddle: It meant a lot to the team to win the Community Services award for IDEA 2022.
The Wesley Edward Eagar Centre was a unique project in that design was at the heart of not just creating a nicer accommodation for its residents, but as a way to positively support and influence the quality of each resident’s experience at the Centre.
The team were tenacious throughout the design and construction of the project, ensuring that comfort and quality of finishes, furniture and design detailing were equally considered alongside durability and safety.
The team worked very hard to create an environment that was more residential than institutional in nature. It was wonderful to be awarded for their efforts.
Tell us about your winning project Wesley Edward Eagar Centre. What was its inspiration and how did you achieve it?
AB: The refurbishment of the Wesley Edward Eagar Centre redefines the concept of crisis accommodation and social housing.
The design team deinstitutionalised the notion of a shelter by focusing on the comfort, well-being and rehabilitation of residents while embracing the building’s legacy and community-driven character.
By improving the dignity and quality of life for the most vulnerable, the project helps to reduce the stigma of social housing; instead creating long-term social resilience through design.
Creating inviting interiors that ooze warmth and prioritise dignity was essential for the reinvented space, as was maintaining a harmonious dialogue with the centre’s heritage elements.
It is a place of respite that brings a sense of ownership, improves dignity and promotes guest safety through features such as door viewers, in-room safes and key card access to resident floors.
These are basic elements of hotel accommodation but were seen as true innovation in crisis accommodation.
The bulk of the $12 million budget was raised by Wesley Missions through donations, with a $1 million grant from the Affordable and Diverse Housing Fund.
Scott Carver delivered the project at a significantly reduced fee and within this modest budget without compromising the quality of design.
This extraordinary project has established a new benchmark for what’s possible in the all-important realm of social housing.
Setting a precedent for crisis accommodation, this mindfully redesigned shelter demonstrates that design can create safe, supportive and encouraging spaces for societal reintegration.
How would you describe the past year? What stood out to you?
AB: It has been an interesting year!
I think it has been fascinating to see and hear things that had been taken for granted get completely redefined.
This has impacted the way we live, work and even the level of honest communication in business which is unprecedented in my career. I feel like we all learned how to connect on a more human level.
What’s next? Can you share any upcoming or current projects you’re working on?
AB: We have some wonderful projects under construction including the new Southern Entrance of the Australian War Memorial, where we provided architecture, landscape architecture and interior design; and the Hotel Indigo Auckland where we provided architecture and interior design.
We hope to have some wonderful images of completed work to share in the next year.
How do you plan to wrap up the end of the year? Any plans to travel, celebrate, reflect or relax?
AB: My family are travelling to Australia from Canada to visit, for the first time in five years, so I am looking forward to spending time with them up the Coast.
All photography by Ben Guthrie unless otherwise stated.
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