Broadmeadows Children’s Court is designed to reflect a new therapeutic service model that improves the experience for families and young people. Our design closely brings together courtrooms, collaborative spaces, and support services for the Family Division of the Children’s Court. As the court hears child protection cases, our design reflects this. Instead of replicating a court that is an adult’s domain, our design responds to the needs of children and makes them feel safe and comfortable. The approach alleviates a stressful environment with simple wayfinding, natural materials, access to daylight, views to outside, and giving ample space to all parties. The project incorporates a separate and safe environment for children, discrete rooms for families and practical working space for legal practitioners and case workers. The success of the design is reflected in willingness of courts and agency staff to have their cases heard here, and families that pass through the judicial system experiencing less stress and disruption to children’s wellbeing.
Courts & Justice
Key Lyons contact
Mihaly Slocombe (interior design of the children’s play space)
Court Services Victoria
Dimboola Rd &, Pearcedale Parade, Broadmeadows VIC
Located on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people
1600 square metres
Designing accessible justice
The project stakeholders were committed to rethinking the model for the Broadmeadows Children’s Court at its inception. Through our close collaboration and consultation workshops, our evolving design balances an efficient, secure layout and the significance of the judicial proceedings with a more comforting and welcoming experience. Connected to the existing Magistrates Court, our light-filled design juxtaposes the earlier model of judicial architecture. The site faces north-east, addressing the civic centre and benefitting from the northern sun. The project includes two courtrooms, meeting rooms, registry, chambers and a combined entry foyer that also improves security and arrival to the existing Magistrates’ Court. The design carefully considers the social, emotional, and physical needs of families, children, legal practitioners, government agencies, magistrates and registry staff. Speaking on the impact of Broadmeadows Children’s Court’s design, Judge Amanda Chambers remarked “Significantly, the layout of this Family Division complex has been designed in a way which encourages, rather than hinders, less adversarial court processes. This court will be a venue of innovation, with a particular emphasis on collaborative and constructive court processes to assist in decision making.”
Improving the court experience
Rigorous research directly informed the design approach. We held workshops with all users to better understand their lived-experience within the space through ‘a day in the life of’ scenarios. This allowed us to design for diverse users and progress the model for a more therapeutic court architecture. Speaking on our design process Lyons Principal Adam Pustola noted “What we learnt is that while the courtrooms are important workspaces, the public spaces need to be welcoming, have good wayfinding, access to outdoor spaces, and lots of choices for waiting or meeting. A lot of business in the court happens in the foyer.”
The architecture creates welcoming and calming spaces to mediate a setting that can be highly stressful. The naturally-lit waiting areas provide breathing space for all parties. Seating and tables give each group space for quiet negotiation and preparation.
The legible wayfinding leads to the courtrooms, which are large and naturally lit with views to nature. Separate courtyards for children and adults’ provide outdoor amenity and fresh air. Small meeting rooms face the landscaped front yards through projecting bay windows. All public functions are located on the ground floor, focused around an easily accessible registry.
The upstairs ‘attic’, an innovation of the new service model, allows children to visit the court discreetly, without having to experience the stress of the public areas. This quiet upper level also provides collaborative spaces for government agencies, support services, and legal practitioners – who would otherwise work in the public areas.