Newman, Western Australia, Australia
Designed by David Kaunitz and his team at Kaunitz Yeung Architecture, the new $8 million PAMS Healthcare Hub Newman is the first primary healthcare facility of any type to be constructed in Newman. Newman, 1400km north of Perth (pop 10,000) with a majority Aboriginal population, is the main town in the Shire of East Pilbara, which is the size of Japan (pop. 15,000).
The Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service won a recent 2021 Green Good Design® Award as well as a 2021 international Architecture Award from The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and The Chicago Athenaeum.
“Newman is the culmination of more than a decade of working and living in remote Aboriginal communities and integrates design, sustainability, clinical and prefabrication techniques from two earlier projects, the Punmu and Parnngurr Aboriginal Health Clinics in the Western Australian Desert, 1800km from Perth, and 500 km from the nearest towns,” states Director Kaunitz.
The project provides a state-of-the-art facility that is deeply rooted in place and imbued with a humanity that engenders community ownership.
This is central to physically representing the ethos of PAMS and increasing presentation rates. In achieving this, the project has placed wellness at the center of the community, which is imperative to close the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.
Above all, this is achieved by involving Aboriginal people and respecting/reflecting people, culture, and country.
Key to this has been the Design Approach: was underpinned by the co-design process. This facilitated iterative consultation and a genuine co-design process with the community and specific user groups. Importantly it enabled impromptu ‘yarning’, under a tree, at the petrol pump or on the way to the shop.
This enabled all voices to be heard from a nomadic culture that is not always comfortable speaking within the mob.
The result is a fine-tuning of the architecture that resonates with community enriching the architecture by making it subtly more appropriate to people, place, and culture.
Another important parameter was the Courtyard Archetype: The courtyard forms the fulcrum of the building. It divides the building between the health clinic and the administration whilst enabling a visual connection and the opportunity for interaction between management and the community.
Moreover, all earth was from the site avoiding transporting materials 1400km from Perth. Above all, the incorporation of the country in the building creates an intuitive connection with local people.
The value of integrating art and, therefore, culture into the project comes as much from the process as it does the outcome. The incorporated artwork is from 19 artists representing the five communities in the building services and was selected by the communities. With this, the architecture plays an important role in uniting the communities around the building and creating relevance for each of them.
The landscaping is integral in contextualizing and connecting the building to the country. Over 2000 local endemic plants were used to create low maintenance, robust and relevant landscaping.
Most importantly is the new unfenced public park that has been formed in front of the building, enabling outdoor waiting, and for the first time, a public park has been created in Newman under the ownership of an Aboriginal organization.
In addition to the use of rammed earth, other materials, and landscaping, the building includes a 150kW rooftop photovoltaic array, which will provide 100% of the building’s electricity when the sun is shining and more than 80% of all power.
Project: Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service
Architects: Kaunitz Yeung Architecture
Design Team: David Kaunitz, Emma Trask Ward, and Marni Reti
Client: Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service
Photographers: Robert Frith – Acorn Photography