Wanarn Clinic

Wanarn Clinic

Architect
Kaunitz Yeung Architecture
Location
Gibson Desert North, Australia | View Map
Project Year
2015
Category
Hospitals
Brett Boardman

Wanarn Clinic

Kaunitz Yeung Architecture as Architects

In the Gibson Desert, 1000km west of Alice Springs, Wanarn Clinic serves a community among the remotest in Australia. Ngaanyatjarra Health Service, a community organisation with an indigenous board, required a clinic which addressed the programmatic constraints and modest budget through respect of people, land and culture to create a facility with community ownership.


Relationship of built form to context was underpinned by the architect living in the community through the design process, facilitating iterative consultation with the community and specific user groups. Importantly it enabled impromptu 'yarning', under a tree, on the way to the shop or whilst hunting rabbit. This enabled all voices to be heard from a nomadic culture that is not always comfortable speaking within the mob. The result is a hundred small things that have enriched the architecture by making it subtly more appropriate to place and culture. Not least are the local stone walls and art screens, integrating the building into the landscape.


The art screens in particular have imbued a sense of pride in the community. They counter the utilitarian built environment which gives no inkling of the extraordinary art that is so often created for the pleasure of others. Their incorporation enables the building to pay respect to elders, artists and culture, enriching the community.


Overarching this and guiding the architecture, detailed physical and environmental modelling ensured that despite the shift from traditional architectural elements the building has superior environmental performance in the harsh environment. This guided the careful orientation of the main building forms and the location of the north orientated entry canopy and art shade screens. Building insulation was also maximised to ensure superior thermal performance.


Importantly the project achieved significant cost savings through detailed consultation, enabling the inclusion of a two chair dialysis unit, to help address the epidemic that is separating people from country. The original budget of $1,857,000 excluded renal dialysis. The final build cost was $1,600,000 including a two chair renal dialysis facility.


The public and cultural benefit "of the health provision cannot be overstated, including renal dialysis which was only possible through careful cost savings. Hundreds have been lost and now those elders who remain can be brought home to the remotest of locations." Brett Cowling (former CEO Ngaanyatjarra Health Service).

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