Refugee Resource Hub Powered by ASRC

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  • 2023

  • Architectural
    Architectual Design

Designed In:

Australia

Bates Smart and Garner Davis together provided pro bono architectural services to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) to transform an existing Dandenong building into the Refugee Resource Hub – a place of welcome and community, providing much needed support for people seeking asylum and refugees living in Melbourne’s southeast.


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Image: Sean Fennessy
Image: Sean Fennessy
Image: Sean Fennessy
Image: Sean Fennessy
Image: Sean Fennessy
Image: Sean Fennessy
  • CHALLENGE
  • SOLUTION
  • IMPACT
  • MORE
  • The ASRC began as a response to a need in the community, with increased demand for services like food banks amid the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. With no government funding, the centre has been entirely reliant on philanthropy, community fundraising and donations to operate. This meant delivering a project with virtually no budget and seeking generous support from consultants. The design response needed to be flexible enough to convert an existing older building into a warm, inviting ‘home of hope’ and incorporate additional services and support groups, accounting for current and future demand for the Hub’s facilities and amenities.

  • The design team navigated a complex, sensitive brief to transform an ordinary building into a functional, safe and welcoming environment capable of supporting southeast Melbourne’s refugee community with a multitude of services that are accessible and culturally appropriate. Reusing the existing fabric enabled the sustainable transformation of a dark and internalised two-storey office building into a pleasant, colourful, light-filled place. Fresh internal finishes, skylights and windows were installed to open up and connect the space along with new lift access. The exterior was rendered in a soft charcoal grey texture and tone with parts given a vibrant spray-finish.

  • The transformation of the Dandenong building into a new integrated services hub to support the state’s highest population of people seeking asylum now serves an average of 300 people per month, with many of them being repeat visitors. The range of holistic and integrated services provided to these newest members of our community includes legal aid, food supplies, counselling, education and employment programs. Many others wanting to contribute have kindly come forward to generously donate goods and services because they or their families can relate to once being refugees or newcomers to Australia and relying on similar services.

  • The Refugee Resource Hub brings together multiple support services and organisations under one roof to better help people with their daily and long-term needs to rebuild their lives. The Hub’s ‘yes we can’ attitude and collaborative approach has enabled them to better support anyone who relies on its services. The RRH Foodbank, which provides free groceries to people needing support at the most basic level, has proven to be one of the most important services the Hub provides, demonstrating a vital need in the community. Many people using the Hub do not have the legal right to work, yet still must cope with high cost of living and not being able to access key government support services such as Medicare. The flexibility of the space has allowed other community groups to come in under the Refugee Resource Hub banner and engage with one another, generating new interactions and greater opportunities. The brightly coloured exterior façade highlights the Hub’s community focus and invites people to walk into the front door.