K20 Architecture takes a deep dive into their design and the importance of The Basin Community House with Manager Heather McTaggart. The centre situated at the foot of The Dandenong Ranges is an integral part of the Knox City Council’s local community for its ability to bring people together and a safe, open gathering place. K20 Architecture responded to the brief by creating a welcoming, open space. The space is the “meeting place for the community to come and socialise, particularly those that are socially isolated, wanting to learn new skills, people returning to work, upgrading IT skills,” says McTaggart.
The Basin Community House is run by a group of inspirational women and is in its 31st year of operation. The centre was originally established for childcare but has morphed into a very substantial neighbourhood and community house. The area itself is mixed, with varying social classes, religious affiliations, people who have just moved and people who have lived here all their lives – so it is a special place. By using a vacant site located next to the Basin Primary School this will allow them to “connect with the parents returning to work, [and] isolated mums or dads,” says McTaggart.
The Centre offers a wide range of programs from health and wellbeing, yoga, Pilates, meditations, cooking, to personal computer training. These IT programs are particularly beneficial for elderly persons wanting to connect with family and friends more through Facebook, Skype and WhatsApp.
“We look to meet the needs of the community… with an ageing population in the basin it will bring in more programs here like strength training for seniors, self-defence for women… all sorts of things we are able to run now in this brilliant facility,” McTaggart explains.
Located in a picturesque semi-rural setting the hardwood decking and timber oil façade allows for it to blend into the urban landscape in which it stands. The entrance, which provides disability access welcomes incomers with open arms, to be met with tall ceilings and a long reception area. The interior is easy to navigate around, has fresh air flowing throughout and plenty of storage space for supplies. Each classroom features carbon neutral carpet from Interface, and acoustic tiled ceiling to ensure sound does not leak. McTaggart explains that she is “absolutely delighted to be in a modern, multipurpose facility that will meet the needs of the community.”
It is imperative that communities have a place where they can connect and gather, and at The Basin Community House they are reaching beyond macramé, knitting and other general group activities. They have a large contract with the Department of Justice and Community Safety, which entails running a lot of programs for offenders, this is conducted on site in community corrections or in national parks. And on top of this a lot of the Indigenous community are getting involved by coming to the centre and teaching basket weaving and the didgeridoo. This is hugely beneficial for the local community and “the basin community are loving it because they are being exposed to stuff that normal community houses probably wouldn’t do without this partnership,” says McTaggart.
In terms of the input and what design and development needs were required for the Basin Community House McTaggart was actively involved, and proclaims that the final product “exceeded expectations and in awe of how big it is.”
McTaggart future hopes for the Community House are purely to “build…grow, [and] have more programs with more diversity and [a] higher participation rate.”
Above image: Heather McTaggart Manager of Community House