Healthcare products from RBA Group were specified by the interior designer working on a mental health facility project in Newcastle, NSW.

Headspace is the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, making a difference in the lives of young people and helping them get through complex challenges. Andrew Steele of Headspace Newcastle explains that anxiety, depression and bullying are some of the main presenting issues for their young clients, which are resolved through early intervention and the process of building mental health resilience.

Quite a few parallels can be drawn between mental health and architecture. A negative space can make a person feel sad and uninspired whereas a modern, aesthetically appealing design can help them generate ideas and think positively.

Given the influence of the built environment on its residents and occupants, Headspace Newcastle sought a building design that would consider a number of factors not only to make it functional but also welcoming for their clients.

According to Andrew, their design brief required an open and spacious facility that would receive a lot of natural light. The requirements also included sufficient space around waiting clients and a degree of privacy; a modern, clean and colourful look; and a setting that would make clients feel valued.

Architects and designers are driven by the many challenges present in any design brief. Every building is as unique as the next, and the look and feel of each is often dictated by the requirements of its inhabitants. In this particular project, there were new challenges because of its healthcare focus. Compliance as well as aesthetic requirements needed to be met for designs and fixtures within the limited budget.

Matthew Jackson, Interior Designer at EJE Architecture, who worked on the Headspace Newcastle building, said healthcare projects presented the unique challenge of creating contemporary spaces that also needed to comply with high performance standards for a diverse patronage, while meeting limited programs and budgets.

Matthew explained that the main challenge with the Headspace project was to find an existing building, which could be transformed into a mental health facility on a limited budget, while meeting the client’s need for sufficient and appropriate treatment and administrative spaces, amenities and access to public transport. A key design objective was also to avoid an overly clinical feel in the facility while keeping its environment safe and welcoming for patrons.

Several factors also needed to be considered in the selection of products for the facility, including the requirement that they be of a commercial grade, access-compliant and anti-ligature.

Matthew commented that they found RBA Group to be a good resource for this project, given their large range of products and options catering to a variety of needs and available at competitive pricing, all from a single source.

RBA Group has developed a range of affordable healthcare products in Enviro-Glaze, a durable electrostatically sprayed powder applied to stainless steel fixtures to provide a white finish. This application enables installed products to retain the strength and durability of stainless steel while meeting the design brief for a light and positive feel.

Products supplied by RBA for the Headspace Newcastle facility included Contura liquid soap dispensers; Contura surface mounted paper towel and waste bins; accessible mirrors; and Koala baby change tables.