Location Belgrave, VIC
Project Completion 2017
Project Size 14,000m2
Project Description The Belgrave Community Hub assembles more than ten community service groups previously housed within disparate substandard accommodation. Three independent weatherboard cottages occupied the under-utilised, steeply dropping and overgrown site located upon the eastern periphery of the town shopping strip. The masterplan approach places the new hub against the boundary to reinforce the town streetscape, with new landscaping and carparking positioned down the slope. A new public plaza platform provides a level activity space for the township, the large eucalypts of the valley creating a stunning backdrop. Vehicular traffic is drawn down the slope to articulated ‘petals’ of carparking, bounded by landscaping, community garden, and play ground. The two storey hub nestles into the slope, addressing both street and site through a stacked foyer that gives a direct visual connection between levels.
The materials and forms of the Community Hub are inspired by the streetscape and the summit and valley geography of the area. Silvertop ash cladding references the weatherboards of local vernacular buildings, while the multipurpose rooms are expressed by a split brick clad form that echos the handcrafted aesthetic of the random rubble structures of the town. An undulating roof geometry introduces a gabled profile to the timber envelopes, referencing the topography of the Dandenongs and the peaked forms of the cottages of Belgrave.
The plan of the hub pinwheels around the foyer and reception area. The multipurpose and gathering rooms are stacked to the eastern wing to give distance from the neighbouring residences. The upper multipurpose rooms open onto the civic plaza to allow for events to break outwards or town events to break inwards. Offices, meeting rooms, and logistics facilities are positioned on the lower floor. Community health consulting rooms are situated on the upper floor, featuring undulating ceilings with clerestory glazing that follows the roof profile. Consulting and meeting rooms are designed to be lofty, connected to the outdoors, inviting and calm. Acoustic quality was a key concern to support the many counselling functions of the hub. The materials of the exterior are used internally to form a robust and familiar palette, with coloured highlights inspired by the flora of the local environment.