2020 World Design Awards - Winner: Institutional Building Concept
2020 AIA Academy of Architecture for Justice - Justice Facilities Review
2021 Australian Institute of Landscape - Health and Education Landscape Award
By their nature correctional centres are designed to separate and restrict, but what if there was also the chance to empower?
Supporting the NSW Premier’s target of reducing reoffending, the expansion of the Dillwynia Women’s Correctional Centre provides a facility that offers a progressive therapeutic solution that promotes rehabilitation. Designed to follow principles informed by trauma, the centre offers meaningful activity and engagement, on a highly constrained site.
We were engaged by the State at Early Contractor stage, and shared a concept that brought innovative solutions to the external perimeter, while seamlessly integrating with existing facilities.
Informed by best practice in designing for victims of trauma, our approach to spaces was to create a building arrangement that maintained separation, while opening site-lines to aid navigation and a greater sense of freedom. It’s an approach echoed in the landscaping, where harsh edges were softened, and fencing was curved, while an abundance of low planting kept the scale at ground level, reducing anxiety and the feeling of enclosure.
The site was not without its challenges. The land was previously used as a dump site for tyres, and is close to critically endangered bushland, bringing the risk of bushfires into consideration. We worked closely with engineering and specialist disciplines to develop a solution that would minimise the amount of excavation required for the site, utilising steel-driven piling for foundations on uncontrolled fill.
We also had to undertake all work sensitive to the fact this was a secure, live site, creating a maximum security expansion to an existing minimum security female prison that remained operational during construction.
By providing multi-use, safe spaces, learning facilities and recreational areas, we’ve created a secure micro-society that ultimately contributes to the wellbeing of the women who live here. A testimony to the role architecture can play in improving lives.