Camcare’s Community and Social Services Centre in Ashburton serves as a critical social hub for those in need to seek counselling, financial services and essential social aid.

The current centre operates out of a 1930’s Art Deco style house, retrofit to suit the needs of the organisation that was set up in the 1970s. ds was tasked with taking the existing suburban abode, turned community centre and redesigning the internal spaces to better suit the facility’s day to day. At the same time, the brief also called for the new design to make the architecture more accessible to those with disabilities and upgrade its services and energy efficiency. 

We worked closely with Camcare and City of Boroondara to determine what was feasible and how best to tailor the existing architecture to the facility’s needs. As we progressed through the design stages, It became clear, that in order to realise the centre’s full potential, a complete re-imagining of the internal spaces was required.

As such, the reception, offices, kitchen and bathrooms have all been rearranged and redesigned to provide better circulation throughout the spaces, greater security for staff and a more flexible open plan working arrangement. New outdoor areas have also been added to make better use of the surrounding garden space and provide areas for users to spill out onto.

For Camcare staff, it was of key importance to have certain areas of the facility be secure so that access could be easily monitored and controlled. As the centre often deals with vulnerable and sometimes unstable indivduals with an array of complex social issues, they explained how greater security provisions would help the functioning of the facility. Unlike in the existing building, the new centre provides distinct barriers between staff and visitor areas with lockable entries and exits. Similarly, rooms for client consultation have been provided with two doors to allow for staff to exit safely if a client becomes hostile.

To preserve the building’s architectural heritage and unique aesthetic qualities, we felt it was critical to maintain and ehance the existing period features of the building. As the project was not a complete rebuild, there was no point in developing the interior to be at odds with its prevailing architectural character. To this end we were concious of retaining and designing around existing feature cornices, decorative ceiling panels, and mouldings to maintain a thoughtful connection to the building’s past. New fixtures and finishes help further establish the art deco character throughout whilst still providing a contemporary feel to the overall fitout.

Through ongoing communication, we have collaborated with our client and stakeholders to create a very special piece of architecture that once built will not only support and enhance the indispensable work of the Camcare organisation.  We’re excited to see the final product as a vibrant and welcoming piece of community infrastructure for many years to come.