Architecture - Masters
This project aimed to create a philosophy that would blatantly challenge the status quo/ societal convention on how to help the homeless through provocative media manipulation, inculcating the public to perceive the homeless in a new light through "unconscious branding."
The ultimate goal of this project is to diminish homelessness in Australia to ZERO. Although this seems like a near impossible task, there is precedence for this type of undertaking oversees. Research conducted in a previous Research Project has shown that the most humane and cost effective solution to this problem is the Housing First Program originating in Finland. This program utilises Socialist reform to simply house the homeless. Such an undertaking is simply not possible in Australia given the political landscape that rewards Capitalist ventures. Because of this, initiating The Housing First Program in Australia will necessitate a cultural shift in perception with regard to the Homeless.
As things stand homelessness is not an issue of great importance to the Australian people in comparison to other humanitarian issues, the cause of this phenomenon is irrelevant, but the solution for highlighting the importance of the issue is paramount to this scheme.
As such, the thought that a single building could eradicate homelessness is absurd, but a building that can garner the public eye and raise awareness by generating an online presence that the public and politicians alike cannot ignore would in effect enable lawmakers to successfully pitch new laws for homeless reform; with the logical solution given public support being that of the Housing First Program which has shown great economic and humanitarian success. So it is the goal of this building to simply be a presence in the Media, to get people talking about the issue that is homelessness, and to raise awareness for the issue in the hopes that public attention will result in more socialist reform in future.
Specifically though, the building located in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley will take on the role of a QuiHn Healthcare Centre. It is here that the homeless who have suffered as a result of addiction will find support through relevant education and social services in conjunction with professional healthcare consultants. The architecture will facilitate space for social interaction amongst fellow homeless addicts enabling community support groups to form naturally within the confines of the structure. A small residential aspect will also cater to a select few that are willing and able to lead informal group discussion. This idea of utilising both professional and peer related support through medical advice, counselling and group therapy will give homeless addicts everything they require for rehabilitation and re-entry into normal Society
Facilitating space for a QuIHN Outreach Health Centre, this building will be able to assist homeless with their AOD outreach program. The program provides provisional engagement to clients with interventions involving education and relevant support. These individually tailored case management programs consist of Harm reduction programs that facilitate NSP (Sterile Needle and Syringe supply as part of Australia’s national Drug Strategy), Provisional education programs, medical referrals, and the MAISE education course that lasts 8 weeks. Although Basic medical services including prescriptions, sterilized equipment and consultations are offered, this is not a 24/7 emergency clinic for addicts. People seeking emergency help beyond what an equivalent GP can offer will be redirected to the nearest hospital, as the real benefit of this Centre is through the allocation of social spaces, which people will use for social interaction I an effort to guide peers through their rehabilitation. This in conjunction with basic medical equipment and facilities provide this Centre with everything needed to combat immediate drug induced problems that may arise in the commune.
As the focus of this building is rehabilitation, it is the aim of counselors and social workers to assist in any way that they deem fit, but also in facilitating peer discussion through informal group therapy sessions. This is why social workers/ career councilors also have office space located in the building. These social workers will aim to reintegrate the homeless back into the
workforce though welfare programs that may even help people find alternative temporary shelters.
Social workers will also train willing participants in a range of skills that will enable homeless participants to find work when they are ready. This program goes beyond education however, in that they also work in finding relevant job opportunities. For example: someone trained with an RSA will be given employment opportunities based on this learned skill. These welfare programs will
also assist residents and visitors not only in their rehabilitation through relevant community groups and psychiatric help, but will also cater for social interactions that enable people to form strong community bonds that statistically prevent relapses similarly to what can be observed in AA programs documented in the U.S.
The concentric architecture revolves around a rotunda with two separate building cores making up services and an office block. The central rotunda predominantly makes up a majority of the communal spaces for social interaction with some feature offices for therapy and doctor consultations.
The Atrium acts to conjoin the rotunda to the adjacent building cores in an effort to create a seamless structure that utilises the unique shape of the site.
Existing Trees have also been maintained where possible in an effort to not only preserve and re-activate the site, but for aesthetic and acoustic purposes as well. These trees along with double- glazing elements will minimise sound from the nearby underpass and highway, which encircle the building.
A variety of construction materials have also been used in an effort to minimise weight and cost where possible. Concrete is predominantly used for loadbearing walls and structure, whereas timber and external cladding is used to give the building a light and breathable appearance to match the qualities that its operative glazing and form provide. Cross ventilation is possible from any aspect as the building is relatively open from all sides to both air and light, with the ultimate effect resulting in a central courtyard that is fully illuminated, private and comfortable for a parkland feel similar to the nearby Marshall St Park. Security is also of concern given the nature of the building and the local nightlife prominent in the area. Because of this the building from the ground floor is fully enclosed and lockable with a security gate closing off access to the central courtyard at night, and a security guard stationed in reception during off peak hours. The presence of cameras not only operates for production and streaming purposes, but also doubles as security surveillance for the security officer located on level 1. This office along with the cleaners office and production room are accessible in the northern tower, but still detached somewhat from the main rotunda as to not deter would be visitors from experiencing the main purpose of the building relating to rehabilitation.
The production room will of course have a ubiquitous aura throughout the entire facility with the location of cameras, but the physical presence of the production room as well as the heavy/ voluntary involvement of visitors and temporary residents will ensure that people within the building do not feel their observation a sinister presence as they are free to observe production themselves. These cameras also do not operate in certain residential type areas, like bedrooms, bathrooms, showers and of course private offices for therapy and medical consultation. This ensures that footage streamed and observed by the public only ever directly concerns social well- being and rehabilitation through group interactions in communal areas like the classroom, library, lounge, kitchen or courtyard.
The Architecture is Light and Breathable, whilst catering for mass gatherings that aid in the rehabilitation of guests and visitors alike. All the while, security surveillance doubles as an online platform aimed at streaming the humanity of this demographic to the public as they view QuiHN’s proven track record to support the homeless, resulting in changing perceptions for media stereotyping, thus paving the way for government reform with regard to providing housing for all homeless people in Australia (akin to the Housing First Program as detailed in the Case Study in Project 1 and the Appendix) Ultimately, the Commune’s controversial nature is what will enable it to be successful in garnering media attention for this global issue. With the moral dilemma presented in its scheme to the public resulting in a new political discourse that is possible without the building even being constructed.
IS THIS BUILDING WORSE THAN LIVING ON THE STREET? WHY ISNT MORE BEING DONE? LET’S HOUSE THE HOMELESS!
Shannon Manteufel is a Masters student currently working in the Construction Industry as a Labourer to learn more practical skills about Architecture. Having already worked in the Industry as an Architectural Intern for Healthcare projects across Brisbane, it is his goal to create spaces that are both crafted and flexible.