Walumba Elders centre
Walumba Elders Centre
Warmun Community, Western Australia
Iredale Pederson Hook
On the 13th of March 2011 the Giga people’s hometown of Warmun, some 200km south of Kununurra, was devastated by a catastrophic 1:300-year flood event. 300 people were relocated to Kununurra for 12 months while some 100 houses were rebuilt.
Iredale Pedersen Hook Architects were tasked with rebuilding the community facility buildings and the old Walumba Aged Care Centre.
Working directly with the community elders and the Home and Community Care staff, IPH designed a new home for the elders based on their Cultural and social needs, while still complying with the requirements of an Aged Care Centre that can provide a range of services under the Commonwealth “flexible aged care provisions”.
The site was selected to be close to the school and town centre to ensure the Elders are able to continue their role as educators and Cultural leaders.
This site was still in the flood zone so the facility was designed to be above the 2011 flood level – standing some 3m off the ground like a bridge or jetty, and linked to the ground with a stone pitched driveway, walkways, and stairs.
The Centre performs several functions; it is the home for the residents and staff who have a range of living support needs, it provides a commercial kitchen for the residents and a “ meals-on-wheels ”service, laundry, a common dining and activity area which is also a central meeting and celebration areas for the community, gender-specific private activity areas to allow for gender-specific Cultural activities to occur and a generous courtyard for the residents to enjoy.
The common area has a fire-pit to allow for the cooking of bush foods and art troughs and space for a range of activities. It is overlooked by the laundry–a drum-like feature and the administration area.
The form of the building responds to the dramatic landscape of Warmun- the two wings of the building create men's’ and women's’ spaces while the “beachhead ”of the entry and common activity area anchors the building to the land. Staircases and ramps link the main level of the facility to the ground.
The roofs define generous verandah spaces, folding to provide shade and weather protection. Due to the heat of the area night time activities are very important to the community so the facility is lit with LED lights to provide safe activity spaces and to address CPTED issues raised by nighttime activities in the community.
Words by Iredale Pedersen Hook
All images by Peter Bennetts