Callignee Community Hub


Callignee, Victoria


2009 – 2011


Principal Consultant
Contract Administration
Interior Design
Workplace Strategy and Design
Landscape design
Design team management


DS Architects


The Callignee Community Hub represents the hope and goodwill of a town rising from Victoria’s devastating Black Saturday bushfires.

On 7 February 2009, four people were killed in the area and nearly every house was destroyed, along with the original 1885 hall. DS Architects were engaged by La Trobe City Council to replace the much-loved hall, which required a sensitive approach in order to create a facility for the community, by the community, with genuineness and authenticity.

Listening first and designing second

Our response was to walk our talk, which translated into community engagement at its finest. We became the council’s voice and the residents’ hands – listening first and designing second – in equal collaboration with members of the community, the Country Fire Association (CFA) and government bodies.

A spacious community hub with a glass door, wooden floor, and ceiling.
Real engagement to enable ownership

We set up an open design studio in Callignee over three days and lived there to get a feel for what the community was living through. We opened the doors and invited everyone in at any time to contribute ideas, share knowledge and feel ownership to the design process from the outset.  Key feedback was that the original style and feel of the hall was important to the community, as was an oak tree on the site that had survived the fires. 

We proposed a larger facility comprising four buildings:

  • Multi-functional community hall 
  • Kindergarten / childcare
  • CFA fire station
  • Clubhouse
A community hub with a house atop a grassy field.

Creating a cohesive identity

Each of the four buildings features a pitched roof, referencing the community’s love for the original hall, connected by a glazed, partly enclosed walkway that softens the collective experience of the site, rather than overwhelm it.

A community hub building with a triangular roof and glass walls.

Maximising space for community

The orientation of each building allows for courtyards each servicing the community in different ways. There’s one for the kindergarten, and another for public events connected to an adjacent sports field. And we ensured that the old oak tree featured in the design, and are pleased that it continues to thrive as part of this community-focused environment.

Providing a point of pride

The proposal was very well received. We downplayed the idea of any ‘architecture’ with the notion of a complex or facility that would serve the community into the future. We engaged with residents again over the next few months by returning to present the developing design at open hall sessions and workshops.

Today, the hub looks as immaculate as it did when we completed it. It creates a point of pride to the community where everyone can gather, celebrate and share in new ways the old hall could not.

A vibrant community hub showcasing a diverse array of tiles on a wall.

A beacon of hope through collaboration

Importantly, this project demonstrates the power of collaboration. By connecting with the users of the site sensitively and intelligently, we have designed an exceptional solution for generations to come.

A modern house with a spacious yard and a prominent glass wall showcasing a seamless connection between indoor and outdoor spaces.