Dandenong’s new mental health facility

Whitefield McQueen Irwin Alsop and Bates Smart’s design for Dandenong Hospital’s mental health facilities is the first stage of a two-stage process that involves replacing the existing outdated and outmoded acute mental health facilities.

Set within a suburban residental area the interface between the acute mental health facility and the surrounding suburban homes created a challenge for the design team. The solution is a defensive perimeter with the perception of public, semi-public and private interfaces. The design breaks scale and texture with its surroundings and offers a new streetscape for residents to enjoy.

The interior builds on successful Dutch models of mental health design with single loaded corridors and almost continuous visual connection to the exterior. The design differs from this precedent by layering large and small courtyards to create different external/internal spaces. This strategy also brings natural light and cross ventilation into an otherwise deep plan. These positive spaces promote wellbeing and help to lift the spirits of the patients.

A domestic-scale interior and the extensive use of ironbark gives this project warmth, drama and texture.

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