The Ruamahanga Health Trust (a charity) was formed to build a new community health centre in Martinborough (resident population: 1600) so that the locals could maintain a doctor in residence to service rural South Wairarapa. Architecture Workshop (AW) developed the brief in close consultation with the local community and also assisted with fundraising. AW’s intensive project management in concert with the Trust enabled the building to be completed on time in 2007 and under budget, at approximately $1,800 per square metre.
The proposal provides five consultation rooms for permanent and visiting doctors, an emergency operating theatre, nurse & treatment rooms, staff amenities, reception, pharmacy, and provision for physio/yoga activities. The consulting rooms are grouped along the northern side and are screened from the park by a ‘timber picket fence’ or rain-screen that filters the northern glare and adds a layer of privacy. For the patients, there is a clear privacy hierarchy from the high public waiting and circulation spaces to the lower ceilings over the private consultation and treatment rooms. The simple layout provides the required privacy for medical consultation and locates the public health education and meeting activities along the glazed shop frontage on Oxford Street. Gently sloping gables provide a veranda over the public footpath and entry court responding to the local context of the neighboring 1908 'Lions' building. This reinforces the existing building patterns found on the main roads leading from the Town Square.
Environmentally sustainable principals were utilized to minimize the use of extra heating and cooling. Exposed concrete block walls and concrete slab absorb heating from the sunlight. High level windows under the double gables provide cross flow ventilation and together with translucent roofing bring filtered light into the central spaces through a timber battened ceiling.
John Ruskin, the English art critic of the Victorian era, once said:
A building must do two things; it must shelter us and it must speak to us of the things we find important and need to be reminded of.