The Mallee Accommodation and Support Program (MASP) building in Mildura, Victoria is a new service and community hub designed as a modern, welcoming and supportive space for people suffering from disadvantage, homelessness and poverty.

Built on the site of a former youth hostel, the $5 million community hub was designed by Aspire Architecture to support the expansion of the organisation and its services, while encouraging more people to seek help through thoughtful design.

MASP CEO Gary Simpson spoke about the organisation's vision for the new building.

"At the moment we support up to 5,000 at any given time, but we are hidden behind a brick wall.

"Our goal is to increase our visibility with a design that also allows the building to look and feel warm, welcoming and relaxed. This means moving away from the traditional clinical look of buildings in our sector. We want clients to walk in and feel like they are accepted and supported.”

Aspire Architecture's Andrew Nairn specified the Territory Steppe cladding range from Cemintel® to bring the brief to life.

"As the building is a large structure on the corner of two streets, we wanted to use quality materials that soften the effect of the building so it doesn't feel so overwhelming.

"The outside of the building is a large two-storey wall and a flat-faced surface wouldn't have worked. It needed some kind of articulation or pattern to it, which we've introduced via the Cemintel range," says Nairn.

Two products from Cemintel's Territory range, Steppe Montane and Steppe Tundra, were selected to achieve this design goal. Steppe Montane's dark chocolate tones have been used on the lower storey to contrast against the light mocha of Steppe Tundra on the upper level of the building.

Designed to simulate materials such as stone, timber, concrete, metal, tiles and smooth render, the Territory range comes with a platinum coating that protects the cladding against UV damage and colour fade, while weather resistant joints ensure long term performance.

Fire performance was a major factor in the selection of the Territory range for the cladding. Given that Mildura is quite a dry area, the project needed a product that met building code regulations for fire protection and non-combustibility.

For Gary Simpson, the dual colours and scale of the building were designed to stand as a 'beacon of hope' for those living with disadvantage in the community. He explained that the colours were chosen for their calming and therapeutic effect on people.

"We couldn't just design the building as a great place for staff to work in; we had to ensure we could get the best leverage from the building to improve our services the way the community feels visiting us. With extended opening hours and our community focus, we're expecting to get more people walking in off the street and asking for help," he concluded.