WAYSS Youth Transition Hub
- BENT Architecture Pty Ltd
- Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
- Newpol Construction Pty Ltd
The WAYSS Youth Transition Hub, commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and located in Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs, provides a home and support network to vulnerable young people on the brink of homelessness.
Originating from the ‘Support for Young People That Really Counts’ program and following a model of early intervention known as the ‘Step Forward’ approach, the hub provides facilities and support to equip kids, typically between 16-18, with skills for independent living, preparing them for the next stage in their lives.
This project facilitates the creation of community through architectural design. The scattered distribution of the residential and communal programme across the site results in spaces which feel connected to and independent of each other. This is further reinforced through the articulation of the spaces themselves, with roof projections at dwelling entrances extending the dwellings into the communal space, while the material expression from the dwellings is carried through the administration and community areas, signaling an extension of the home environment.
This built environment works for, not against, its vulnerable residents, encouraging community connections so essential for their health and well-being.
The true impact of this project is its ability to facilitate the development and growth of its residents as people. This project doesn’t just offer shelter to youths who would otherwise be homeless. It provides housing that has the potential to enrich lives and make people feel good.
Here, the built environment works for, not against, residents to create a meaningful link between them and the outside world. For kids who have either left or been kicked out of home and would otherwise end up living on the streets, this is a place to call home.
This design offers a transformative experience to its vulnerable residents. The design language is a positive one: residents have choice about how much interaction they have with those around them. Administration areas are linked to and flow into communal spaces, breaking down the idea of ‘us and them’ and diluting any sense of surveillance. Instead, support staff become a part of the community, creating a mutual relationship of trust and respect; rather than \’we\’re watching you\’, the message becomes \’we\’re all watching out for each other\’. Community pride is fostered, offering new skills and hope for a positive future.
The WAYSS Youth Transition Hub pulls apart the spaces that you might find in a traditional institutional facility and humanizes them, creating space between for greenery to enjoy and natural light to enter. Light-filled interior spaces connected to gardens have wellbeing as their central design objective. Functional adjacencies allow the facility to perform on a programmatic level, but the space between allows people to breathe, to contemplate, to be themselves, and to connect to the natural environment and their site community as a principal method of achieving well-being.
This project includes the most fundamental aspects of great, sustainable design through gestures which don’t necessarily require additional expense; buildings are sited to harness the sun, northern light is welcomed into living spaces, and openable windows capture prevailing winds. These gifts from nature are free and we should use them! What’s more, reinforcing our connection to nature enhances our own well-being and makes us feel great. Roofs are angled to maximise the amount of energy their solar panels produce, further reducing the hub\’s running costs and environmental impact.