Opening officially this week, Wardle’s design of Bendigo Law Courts looks to redefine justice design typology and the entire court attendance experience.
The court has been created in conjunction with City of Greater Bendigo, legal practitioners, court users, and local community service agencies in order to create a user-centric configuration. The five storey building has been additionally enhanced by the practice’s partnership with DJAARA (Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation) and Court Services Victoria in bringing the building to life.
“Through deep consideration of the built and cultural heritage of place we’ve responded to both Bendigo’s recent history as a Victorian gold rush town, and to the ancient lines of creation that connect past, present, and future across Dja Dja Wurrung Country,” says Wardle Partner Meaghan Dwyer.
Wardle Associate Principal Megan Darbsyshire says an empathetic approach was adopted to quash any fears of attending court.
“Top of mind is the physical and psychological wellbeing of court users, judiciary and staff. For example, the specialist Family Violence Court has safe waiting areas and separate entries and pathways for people in custody and operational staff,” she says.
“Unlike many buildings of this type, huge windows fill the public areas with light and frame views over the city and out to the surrounding mountain ranges. The interiors combine warm, natural colours, materials and textures for comfort and a sense of calm. The building is welcoming to all.”
The entire textural palette references the traditions of the Dja Dja Wurrung People. The building is devised as in the round, with cladding seen across all external panels, with a brickwork base and copper in the upper section.
The pitched roofline acknowledges the court’s esteemed standing in the community. The building integrates digital technology through courtrooms, work areas and public spaces for both remote and in person interaction, and to improve the efficiency of court operations. Dedicated workspaces on site for agencies, bookable meeting rooms and private nooks provide comfortable working conditions and the privacy needed for sensitive conversations.
Bunjil, an artwork by Indigenous artist Racquel Kerr adorns the external facade, which depicts the ancestral wedge-tailed eagle synonymous with Indigenous dreamtime. Bunjil’s prominence on the façade and a forecourt landscape designed with Djaara artists are reminders of being on Dja Dja Wurrung Country and symbolising a system of governance and a statement of living culture.
Wardle designed the building to achieve a 6 Star Green Star V1.2 design and targeting as built (Certified), with 90 percent of materials and labour sourced locally.
A thoughtful, collaborative design approach has borne a law court worthy of its standing within the community. Wardle has been mindful of user requirements and the history and culture of the site, paving the way for an outstanding design outcome.