Beyond following the Australian Standards, WMK undertook workshops with end users to understand their requirements & aspirations. Unique features include extra wide doorways, a large two sided lift, automated doors & windows, integrated technology with equipment manageable from an iPad, height adjustable furniture, extra-large bathrooms, integrated harness tracks to aid movement, windows to allow guests to gaze at the stars, windows at wheelchair height & seating designed to help people transition. Sargood Ambassador Nick Taylor says: “Everything's designed with accessibility in mind; there aren't many places where accessibility is the first priority.”
In contrast to a traditional hospice, Sargood is a five-star resort. Embracing contextual architecture & warm, textured materials, the facility provides for contemplation & social interaction. The villas incorporate sophisticated interiors, advanced technology & courtyards. Communal spaces encourage interaction, incorporate seascape imagery & maximise views, natural ventilation & sun ingress. Flexible spaces host classes to energise & open the mind, while the gym is designed to assist with healing. The basement offers direct beach access with space for transfer to beach-going wheelchairs. Sargood Ambassador Nick Taylor says: “It looks luxurious before it looks accessible.”
Sargood On Collaroy was consciously designed to provide sensory experiences for guests to enhance their experience & uplift the spirit. Architectural forms echo the beach, textured materials beg to be touched, orientation that maximises the sights & sounds of the crashing cobalt waves & extra-wide doors & windows to breathe in the salty air, bask in the cool breeze & feel the warmth of the sun's rays. The colours transition from subdued hues in the villas to vibrant colours in the social spaces, a variety of physical spaces are provided for different experiences & the design creates a seamless connection of the outdoors with the indoors.
The architecture complements its environment whilst maintaining a sense of confidence. The building sits quietly into a sloping site & steps back from the beach to reduce its visual impact. The sophisticated charcoal of the roof contrasts pleasingly with the pale sand colour of the masonry base. Residential pavilions are defined by a series of folded linear roofs that capture the sun & mimic waves, building into a crescendo at the entry. The architectural design of Sargood On Collaroy reflects an experiential resort & the nestled integrated stance of the building minimises the impact on its surrounds is a physical manifestation of being part of the community.
The architecture is seamless with the interiors, blurring inside & outside. As well as enhancing the visual & textural experience of the facility, the furniture was designed to facilitate functionality. In addition to the look & feel of the furniture & how each furniture piece would contribute to the various spaces in the facility; heights of tables & chairs, adjustability, variety & even the density of foam for seating were investigated. The ability for the furniture to handle operational requirements & the wear & tear of a fully functioning health facility was carefully considered. This was not just for those people in or transitioning from wheelchairs, it was also for family members, visitors & staff.
The overriding design feature of Sargood on Colloroy is that the innovative architectural design is far from a traditional health or care facility. The benefit is to break down guests' physiological barriers as well as speed up & improve the recovery process. “The built environment has a profound psychological impact on quality of life,” said Greg Barnett, WMK Managing Director. “If it looked, felt, or smelt like a hospital we would have failed in our job.” As Sargood's Ambassador Nick Taylor says, “It is the ultimate accessible resort,” & as journalist Peter Fitzsimons says, “As a resort, I would like to stay there”.
The vision and outcome for Sargood On Collaroy was essentially driven by and paid for by the local community, for the community. The dream of providing a world-class facility that would demonstrate to Australia and the world how a health facility for people with spinal injuries of the future should be was tempered by the reality of money. That such a high quality & complete design outcome was achieved in this financial context and tight budgeting controls is testament to the will, energy and smarts of the community and the will and energy of the design team - adding to the quality of the design.