DesignInc’s design of the Anne and Eric Smorgon Active Living Centre seeks to ensure that visitors of the centre remain connected to the wider community and the people within it.
Located in Caulfield, Melbourne, the living centre invites the community to visit casually, exercise and meet friends. The brief specifically called for a ‘connection centre’ that would enrich the lives of the community, with a number of spaces that offer a range of social and recreational activities, cultural and spiritual services, and therapies that enhance wellbeing, health and independence.
The design of the building seeks to celebrate Jewish culture and its identity through the implementation of woven patterns that are reminiscent of the Jewish people and nature. The motif features throughout the interior and is utilised across a range of scales. The exterior on the other hand features a brick facade, expressing robust materiality and reflecting the immediate streetscape. The angular roof aims to coexist with the residential setting in a contemporary context, further extending the building’s ability to connect with its locale.
“As we got to know our client, we learnt of the great diversity within the Jewish community with its many rites, traditions and journeys. We chose to explore this idea and express it in the use of intertwining patterns that feature throughout the interiors and the exterior brickwork,” says DesignInc Principal Jane Sayers.
“At DesignInc, we incorporate biophilia in our work. We noticed that through the use of patterns, we could strengthen the building's connections to nature by heightening the play of light and shade. The breezeway screen creates a captivating experience of light, with shadows strengthening and dissolving depending on the time of day, weather and season. It's a beautiful expression of life.”
The connection centre doubles as the heart of the building, with flexible community spaces flowing from it. Consulting rooms, gymnasium, and a refurbished cafe offer a number of amenities for the community to utilise, namely the residents of the neighbouring Gary Smorgon House.
The shule (synagogue) that was previously located at the nearby Gary Smorgon House is now housed at the centre within a dedicated purpose-built space. The residential aged care facility now connects to the Active Living Centre thanks to an accessible linkway that encourages interaction between the community and aged care residents.
“By creating a direct link to Gary Smorgon House, a seamless transition is created between the two facilities, enhancing daily life for residents by enabling greater community connection and independence,” continues Sayers.
Ensuring Jewish customs and values are intertwined within the design language of the building, DesignInc has created an inviting space for the Caulfield community to utilise. With a number of practical and accessible spaces, the building seeks to celebrate Jewish culture while allowing for all to make use of its wide range of amenities and services.