As 2021 comes to a close, Corbett Lyon addressed the studio last week and reflected on the year that was.
Our design for the Neighbourhood Justice Centre (NJC) supports a restorative approach to justice and enables support services to work alongside the community. The project marks the first community justice centre in Australia, based upon global best-practice, and acts as a blueprint for a more holistic approach to justice. Through consultation and research we interrogated previous approaches to the design of justice spaces and developed an approach that responds to its local community, reduces stress for staff and visitors, and fosters collaboration between legal, policing and support services. An unassuming building from the street, the progressive thinking behind the NJC quietly and confidently works to build a stronger, safer community.
Courts & Justice
Key Lyons contact
Rush Wright Associates (landscape)
Department of Justice, Court Services Victoria
241 Wellington St, Collingwood VIC
Located on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people
2850 square metres
Connecting with community
Located on Wellington Street in Collingwood, the site was selected based on feasibility studies, its ability to be identified in the local community, and its flexibility for reuse and rework. The landmark site was a bootmaker in 1911 and required expertise to be adapted and upgraded. Described as modest in budget and street impact, the project is ambitious in its ability to redefine justice in the inner city, including for the Koori community. The project successfully achieves these outcomes thanks to its early intervention, alternative dispute resolution, therapeutic justice, a Koori court, and integrated service delivery model.
Designing for a therapeutic justice model
The objective of the Neighbourhood Justice Centre (NJC) is to bring smaller cases out of the city and into a familiar setting in the context of support services. As a pilot project, many of the established principles of court and tribunal design were critically reviewed through a series of inclusive workshops with community, government agencies, researchers, policy-makers and courts staff. The outcome is a multi-jurisdictional court and tribunal that offers flexible spaces for service delivery to assist victims, defendants, civil litigants and the local community. Rather than being greeted by an x-ray scanner, trained security staff move about the foyer and waiting spaces, greeting visitors and offering assistance.
The design makes the process of justice transparent and less intimidating, with views into hearing spaces and meeting rooms. The layout adapts and expands the heritage building to improve connections between floors and add secure outdoor spaces. Natural materials such as the recycled ironbark seating in the foyer create the sense of a community centre, rather than a court building. To further its community identity the building is designed for community uses, with spaces able to be booked for meetings and art exhibitions hosted in the public spaces.