Youth hub's wide appeal down to clever design

Community input has made for a centre with top facilities, writes Stephen Crafti.

Community input has made for a centre with top facilities, writes Stephen Crafti.

Architect Paul Hede, director of Hede Architects, was given an unusual brief from the City of Melton. On the one hand, he was asked to design an elderly care centre. And a kilometre away, on Calder Park Drive, Taylors Hill, Hede was designing a youth centre. "The demographics are extremely wide, from 80-year-olds to teenagers," Hede says.

While the day centre for the elderly centred on Morton Homestead, circa 1910, one of the oldest buildings in the area, the Taylors Hill Youth Community Centre required an entirely new building. Restoring and adding a new wing to the homestead was fairly straightforward.

However, the brief for the youth centre changed with the community's involvement. So what started out as a building solely for youth is now a multi-functional space that draws the broader community.

The amenities to be accommodated within the youth community centre were extensive, including internet facilities, communal meeting spaces, offices for youth workers, as well as a separate area for bands to practise their music, and a recording room. Added to the mix was a skateboard bowl, as well as change room facilities and amenities for those using the two adjacent ovals. "Kids often come to the centre just to use the skateboard bowl, without necessarily wanting to come inside the building," Hede says.

As the topography of Calder Park Drive is undulating, Hede Architects were keen to create a low-slung building. Constructed in glass, steel refrigerator panels (sandwiched with insulation) and steel, the facades on either side of the building concertina in and out across the site. Those passing by can't see in, and those inside have discrete views and privacy. "We wanted to bring in as much northern light as possible, but it was important that the youth don't feel they are under surveillance," Hede says.

However, rather than constructing impenetrable walls within the building, which could provide youth unlimited freedom, the architects carefully allocated spaces where there was passive surveillance. The offices for the youth workers, for example, are next to the internet lounge.

One of the key features in Hede Architecture's design are the three community halls located in the centre of the floor plan, and next to the protected courtyard. These halls, separated by partitions, can be used independently, or opened up entirely to provide enough space for community gatherings. Serviced by a commercial kitchen, this area is ideal for everything from youth festivals to community meetings.

To animate the spaces, the architects used vibrant colours for the walls, from reds through to avocado greens. Playful furniture adds to a sense of youth culture. "This interior is markedly different to the one created at Morton Homestead," Hede says.

One of the most used areas within the centre is the courtyard, with its seating and barbecue facilities.

However, some young people may not even enter the building. They're quite content to bring their skateboards and "shoot the breeze".

Hede filmed one of the skateboarders in action, as he was following the dips and turns of the bowl. "When the guy completed the course, he came right up to the camera and raised two fingers [in the peace sign]. I think that meant he was pleased with the result," Hede says.

Related Articles