The pro bono work of Studio Tate is making a tangible difference to the many organisations it supports. In its latest project, there is no question that fine design makes all the difference to living a better life for those at Youth Projects’ The Living Room.
January 17th, 2024
Studio Tate is a Melbourne-based interior architecture practice that produces outstanding work in the commercial, residential, hospitality, retail and health sectors. While crafting beautifully detailed interiors is in Studio Tate’s DNA, it is heartening that this practice believes that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy great design, not only those who pay a price. To this end, Studio Tate is engaged with multiple pro bono projects to give back to society.
As principal, Studio Tate, Alex Hopkins – a member of the 2024 INDE.Awards jury – and her team have big hearts. The practice has been involved in a variety of projects that support organisations helping those in need. There has been CASA House – Centre Against Sexual Assault, The Royal Women’s Hospital Foundation, Neonatal Intensive care Unit (NICU), Jean Hailes, For Women’s Health projects and now, its latest project, The Living Room for Youth Projects. This is a grand portfolio for a studio of just 14 people who provide their skill and experience pro bono. Studio Tate punches above its weight, not only in talent and expertise, but in giving back.
“As a studio we design for life; with a belief in social sustainability and timeless design that creates a positive impact on how people and communities live, work and play. Designing for pro bono clients is all about giving back and making good design accessible to all. It’s a commitment to social impact, using our skills and network to address critical issues like homelessness. Engaging in this work aligns with a belief in design as a tool for positive change, contributing to community wellbeing,” says Hopkins.
The Living Room explores the concept of an ‘urban reserve’, a place of protection, belonging and comfort, as a new concept in the provision of primary health and homelessness services for Melbourne’s CBD. It becomes a welcoming space of refuge, where healthcare and social support are offered free of charge, and in confidence, for those at risk or experiencing homelessness.
Related: Meet the 2024 INDE.Awards jury
The project began in 2019 when the lease of the registered charity’s space in Hosier’s Lane was about to expire. Looking to the future, Youth Projects undertook a rigorous strategy process to rethink the organisation and collaborated with The Green Boat, Capabuild, Compass and Studio Tate to create a plan that would also attract government funding and co-investment from Youth Projects’ board of directors. The result is a destination that is transformative and supportive, a safe place for women to start to rebuild their lives.
As an interior project, there is nothing ordinary about The Living Room. It combines facility, amenity and comfort through exemplary design. Wayfinding is straightforward, the colour palette soothing and materiality refined. There are design highlights such as the veined stone facade of the island kitchen bench that complements the butter-coloured Laminex benchtop and a tessellated multi-coloured tiled floor that abuts a Japanese-inspired tiled wall. And there are other small details that make the interior of The Living Room special. A splash of colour on a sofa; the use of two colours, under and above the extended dado line on a wall; or simply the vibrant pink risers on the stairway.
While Studio Tate provided design services pro bono, Anita Zampichelli, associate director affirms that “the project was executed with the same thought and rigour as a paid project.”
Levels one and two are now fully utilised with increased washer and dryer facilities, new medical suites, triage, consultation and meeting rooms and training areas. The shower and toilet facilities are doubled and new technology has been incorporated into the drop-in centre. A women’s lounge (Badjurr) provides a safe place to meet and relax and the wellness centre supports hairdressing and massage to aid in holistic respite and recovery.
Since re-opening, The Living Room has seen a rise of 11 per cent in people accessing the facilities, with an average of 60 to 100 people visiting daily. The inclusion of the dedicated Women’s (Badjurr) Lounge has seen a doubling of users.
Zampichelli adds: “The standout feature of The Living Room is its emphasis on conveying the message ‘you are worthy’. It’s not just about design; it’s about empowering individuals, inspiring positivity and creating a space where users feel a sense of ownership. The hope is that this design fosters dignity, self-authority and a renewed sense of hope for those who use the space. Success is measured in increased accessibility to services and a tangible, positive impact on the community.”
The interior of The Living Room shows that good design really does make a difference. Design can provide excellent form and function but also aid in recovery and inspire the spirit. While Studio Tate provided their services free of charge, Reece, Kvadrat Maharam, Laminex, Signorino and others also contributed to the success of the project donating more than $200,000 in the form of product.
While so many talk about giving back, Studio Tate is doing great things and making an indelible difference to people’s lives in the process. It takes strength of character to invest your time, effort and talent for the betterment of others with no expectation of financial payment, and Studio Tate is to be congratulated for caring and accomplishing such a wonderful project.
The Green Boat
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