The Bower Studio team has embarked on their latest challenge in the Bellary Springs community in Western Australia. 16 students along with studio leader, David O'Brien, set off for Bellary Springs on Tuesday 19 June for a 10 day undertaking to build a multi-purpose community centre in Bellary Springs, located between the townships of Tom Price and Paraburdoo in the remote Pilbara region.
Each semester the Bower Studio team work alongside indigenous communities to develop community infrastructure projects, using the consult - design - build approach that engages members of the community at all stages of the project. Since its conception in 2008, the Bower team have designed and renovated housing, constructed two computer centers and built an early childhood learnign center. In June 2011 the University of Melbourne worked with Gumala Aboriginal Corporation and Gumala community members to build the 0-5 Gumala Early Learning Centre at the Wakathuni Community. This latest project marks the commitment of the University of Melbourne and the Gumala Aboriginal Corporation to this ongoing partnership. Together they are committed to integrated, relationship based approaches to community development, engaging with communities directly to develop joint solutions that appropriately reflect community needs.
This project in Bellary Springs commenced in early 2011 with David O'Brien meeting with community members to consult on their needs. Rather than holding one community meeting, David and his team called to the homes within the community to ensure everyone had a chance to voice their opinions on what their community needed.
The unanimous decision was a community centre which met fifteen distince needs:
- A large and shaded outdoor gathering place
- Space for cultural business
- Enclosed meeting space
- Visitor toilet and shower facilities
- Improved faciklityes for visiting nurses
- Computer facility
- Homework space
- Shared cooking facility
- Community office
- Mail distribution point
- Play space for children
- Sports clinic
- Men's meeting place
- Space for nutritional and bush medicine learning
- School of the air
The location was also decided on by the community who wanted the facility close to the other facilities, such as the communal BBQ and the nurses station, and within the line of site of the surrounding houses with a clear vision of the mountains to the Northeast.
Through semester one, students have been designing the community centre to meet the extensive requirements of the community, while working within the constraints of the natural and cultural environment of Bellary Springs. Decking and surrounding space, security and heat were all considered and let to some of the most interesting features.
The facility will be officially opened on Friday 29 June.