Wanarn Health Clinic

DesignerDavid Kaunitz
PrizeHonorable Mention
Project LinkView
Entry Description

In the Gibson Desert 1000km west of Alice Springs, Australia, Wanarn Clinic serves a community among the last to experience first contact and remotest in Australia. "Ngaanyatjarra Health Service as a community organisation, with an indigenous board, required a clinic which met the programmatic constraints and modest budget through respect of people, land and culture to create a facility with community ownership. This has resoundingly been achieved." Brett Cowling CEO. To meet this brief the process was genuinely opened to the community, facilitated by the architect, and guided by the functional requirements to meet the client's aspirations. This 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 stone walls were fabricated by local indigenous workers and locally selected stone and serve as a vehicular and dust barrier. The art screen were a collaboration between the artists, Warakurna Artists, fabricator and architects. This ensured they were integrated into the building fabric, easily fabricated and installed whilst protecting the integrity of the art. They counter the utilitarian built environment which gives no inkling of the extraordinary art, recognised globally, 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 with their meaning.