D E S I G N I N G F O R AT-R I S K YO U T H
OUR BEGINNI NG
China spread through the provinces of to n ga be s iru av ron co of e typ ic In late 2019, a new know as COVID-19. This pandem we ic em nd pa the o int ed and eventually develop oned as a society. While all cti fun we w ho d an rld wo the had a devastating impact on mographics ysically, and mentally, some de ph y, iall soc d cte pa im re we demographics ers. were impacted harder than oth losses regarding employment, ible red inc ed fer suf s up gro ic Already at-risk socio-econom in low socios paper I will explore youth thi In g. ein ll-b we ll era ov d d on education, an ic and its immediate effects ha em nd pa the ct pa im the d an d economic groups tline how this group is at-risk an ou l wil I h, ac pro ap sed -ba rch this group. Using a resea w we can design in their aid. ho d an -19 VID CO by d ute rib the contributing factors att
OUR FOCUS areas. in low socio-economic 2 -2 13 ed ag h ut yo is is project The primary focus of th to experience negative ely lik e or m is ic ph ra this demog as well as Our research shows that depression and anxiety, th wi ign al at th s om pt m her at coping strategies and sy These factors include hig s. or ct fa of ty rie va a to s due While lower academic succes rs regarding resources. rrie ba d an ts en m on vir study en home stressors, unstable soared in the context of s or ct fa e es th , al rm no operates as ess these existing issues this occurs when society dr ad to s m ai ct oje pr is ctors in mind, th raphic, COVID-19. All these key fa d for the youth demog ne sig de ely at er lib de is e that and create a safe spac belonging. encouraging a sense of
With consideration of th ese issues, this space shou ld be a facility that can in both a social and educ be used ational context. This is de lib er at ely designed for the youth demographic and can be used as both a trial an d te m pl ate for similar facilities in similar areas around Austr alia. Through assessing th e ne eds of this age group, th are some key design go ere als that should be reache d.
BACKGROUND R E SE ARCH
WHO IS THIS FO R? Literature Review
Once COVID-19 started spreading around the world in 2020, the world went into lockdown which resulted in the closure of schools, workplaces, and community facilities. Different demographics were affected in different ways but there are some groups that have proven significantly more vulnerable than others. Research suggests that the low socio-economic population found it difficult to cope during the pandemic for a variety of reasons. This group has a higher instance of at home stressors, which included job loss and other financial related factors. This group is also at higher risk of being in an abusive environment and not being able to leave their homes allows for a higher rate of domestic violence toward both women and children. There is also evidence to suggest those in low socio-economic areas are more likely to experience stress during the pandemic due to a lower level of education, leading to a higher level of misinformation about the virus and uncertainty for the future (Javed et al 2020). Another vulnerable group are ethnic minority groups. While experiencing the above barriers and stressors, this ethnic minorities are also more likely to have “significantly less access to stable housing, liveable wages, and physical and mental health resources compared to majority groups” (Rudenstine et al. 2020). Due to these social factors, this group is more likely to face financial hardship and a lack of support for any physical or mental related illnesses that may occur, leading to a higher level of stress. While both groups are likely to struggle through the pandemic, the specific age group that are most likely to struggle are the youth, especially in these minority groups. For the youth population, school is a significant part of their routine and their primary social environment. Building relationships between peers and teachers are both essential to their mental health and their overall development. The sudden closure of these facilities not only interrupted their way of life but had significant impact on their mental health and the way they socialise (Lathika & Soman 2020). Among this, we see other risk groups such as LGBTQ youths who reported not only feelings of depression and anxiety but additionally, felt a loss of identity due to being isolated in unsupportive home environments (Fish 2020).
T T H E I M raPtureAReCview Lite
Having identified the most vulnerable groups, it is important to see how being in these vulnerable groups have impacted their day to day lives. One of the most universal impacts of isolation due to COVID-19 was the negative effects on mental health. Rudenstine (2020) suggests, the negative effects of the pandemic may be felt stronger by those in marginalised groups. As mentioned above, all risk groups are likely to experience emotional distress and this is shown through a variety of symptoms, including feelings of depression or anxiety, difficulty concentrating or changes in or avoiding activities that had been previously enjoyed and this is more likely to occur in youth groups (Javed et al 2020). Levels of academic achievement also dropped during this time. Schools moved to online methods of education but this method tends to exclude those without the resources to participate (Warf 2020). It was shown that a significant amount of children and teens from low socio-economic areas or ethnic minority groups faced financial barriers when it came to education. These groups were less likely to afford the necessary resources, including access to the internet, computers, or printers, leading to higher levels of inequity (Silverman, Sibbald & Stranges 2020). While facing the financial barriers between students and education, some of these students also live in home environments that do not allow them to focus or thrive. Some students may not have physical space to study or may be in busy, crowded homes and depend on being able to study at school or the library to focus.
OUR OPPORTUNI TIES Literature Review
Considering the information presented above, it is time to analyse what the main problem is among the youth population in low socio-economic areas and ways to better prepare for similar circumstances in the future. Evaluating isolation during lockdown, the largest issues faced by the youth population is the restrictions on being able to socialise with peers and develop social skills. Having social needs not met can have detrimental effects on the development of children and young people, this is only amplified when a parent may be unavailable to aid and tend to these needs due to other commitments (Warf 2020). Another area for improvement is the loss of leisure activities due to isolation. Leisure activities are crucial for a child’s development and contribute to a range of development areas, including mental, social, and physical (Gabriel 2020). Taking on-board the notion that socialising is critical in these phases of life, even outside of the pandemic it seems that there is no real space designed specifically for teens. While there are a range of communal spaces, these spaces are typically designed for the broader public rather than for the social or recreational use by the youth population and while teens need to come together in group settings, it is often frowned upon by the public. Due to spaces that are not suitable for them, teens tend to feel misplaced and we can expect to see a rise in risktaking behaviour, among other negative effects (White 2020). A possible solution for this issue is designing a space specifically for the youth population in low socio-economic areas that aid in allowing them to meet all their needs. If this demographic had access to a study hub that housed a range of different zones and activities, this would create a space where they feel welcome and can be flexible when used in the context of the pandemic. Research shows that open plan office design promotes creativity and collaboration. Designing private study spaces that are divided by materials such as glass allows students to socially distance and focus, while simultaneously feeling a sense of human connection (Alvali and Samani 2020). This will also allow access to resources that would otherwise be inaccessible, such as internet, computers, and printers. The most important problem this may solve is providing a safe place for at risk youth, so they are able to remove themselves from toxic home environments when necessary and have a place to be able to focus.
FURTHER RESEARCH DATA MINING These are the findings from data mining research conducted for similar facilities in the South-East of Victoria. While it appeared these facilities were generally well received with 69% of reviews being positive, there were some very common grievances that appeared. It is evident that the biggest issues found in these spaces are the high noise level, resulting in high distractions. Out of 55 noise complaints, 35% of these were specifically described as being caused by kids. The next issue that was most prevalent was that there was either not enough physical space, or not enough private/quiet study space. This indicates that while members of the community would like to use the space, it is made too inconvenient by a low capacity. There were also common issues in parking and accessibility. While there are significant issues that emerged, there were also patterns in what reviewers found contributed to their positive experiences. It was found that there were 37 reviews that mentioned a high staff quality and 14 that mentioned modern and well-designed facilities. From these numbers, these two factors will influence how likely someone is to use these spaces.
INTERVIEWS The following data was collected from peers at Swinburne University, data collected surrounded experiences and opinions on similar facilities. Through the interviews conducted, there are some clear differences and some very common beliefs that are identified. This research indicates that independent study appears to have a higher rate of productivity among university students. While participants find study-specific environments to be effective, they are likely to choose their own home due to convenience. When asked about existing facilities, there were some key patterns that came through. These spaces are found to aid their productivity, but the consensus was that these spaces are often over-crowded and as a result, were often very loud, limited in space and not well-maintained. Many participants find that there is a need for a higher proportion of private study areas, cleaning stations for sanitation and all participants agreed that there is very little natural light in these spaces.
DESIGN BRIEF DESIGN BRIEF The primary focus of this project is youth aged 13-22 in low socio-economic areas. Our research shows that this demographic is more likely to experience negative coping strategies and symptoms that align with depression and anxiety, as well as lower academic success due to a variety of factors. These factors include higher at home stressors, unstable study environments and barriers regarding resources. While this occurs when society operates as normal, these factors soared in the context of COVID-19. All these key factors in mind, this project aims to address these existing issues and create a safe space that is deliberately designed for the youth demographic, encouraging a sense of belonging. With consideration of these issues, this space should be a facility that can be used in both a social and educational context. This is deliberately designed for the youth demographic and can be used as both a trial and template for similar facilities in similar areas around Australia. Through assessing the needs of this age group, there are some key design goals that should be reached.
GOALS The first goal is that this facility is multi-purpose, having maximum flexibility will allow for a variety of different uses and programs. This also allows for any kind of evolution or changes to the space under extreme circumstances, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This space should be designed with the primary senses in mind, such as sight, smell, and sound, as it is to be a functional space that promotes productivity. While being practical, they should be designed in a way that encourages our target audience to come in and use the space. An integration of natural light, bright colours and interesting design is integral to promote use. A range of different resources should be integrated into the design and be made accessible, this includes computers, printers, Wi-Fi etc. Above all else, this space should be easy to get to, making the selected site
DESIGN ELEMENTS While keeping all factors previously mentioned in mind, there are critical design elements that need to be considered and woven into the design to make it a functional and desirable space. Allowing for maximum natural light is crucial, as well as a design that allows for both a physical and mental connection to nature and the outdoors. Appropriate material selection will be a strong consideration, materials should be easily maintainable but provide great acoustic properties for noise control. Having a space that feels fresh and clean will add to the comfort level in the space, setting up sanitising stations would be an excellent way to promote cleanliness. While these components are all incredibly important, the space should feel unique and promote a feeling of individuality.
Fajar Youth Hub Singapore by Ehka Studio
Kollaskolan School Sweden by Kjellgren Kaminsky Architecture
Monash University Turner Hall Clayton, Victoria by Jackson Clements Burrows Architects
Microsoft Technology Pavillion Verkhne-Imeretinskaya Bukhta, Russia by NOWADAYS Office
1. 282-284 Lonsdale Street, Dandenong 440m2 Double story 2. 268 Lonsdale Street, Dandenong Approximately 300m2 Single story
East side of building A
North facing view of building A
West side of building A
West view of building B + park
View of building B from park
South facing view of building B
ZONING - LEVELS
QUIET STUDY ZONE
GENERAL STUDY ZONE
FLEXIBLE STUDY PODS
RECEPTION, MEETING ROOMS AND MULTI-PURPOSE ROOM
CAFE PUBLIC GARDEN AND STUDY OUTDOOR STUDY AREA
Coloured trim surrounding windows on windows on above levels to add more colour and create a less institutional feeling
Thin coloured beams running along ground level of façade to bring in more colour create a less institutional feeling
Removal of black metal cladding, replace with a softer/warmer material/colour
Removal of large steel beams for support, replacing with thin coloured beams to keep the theme of vertical running elements, bring in more colour and invoke creative/ playful design
Extending windows on South Wing to full length to allow façade to feel more open
GROUND LEVEL FLOORPLAN
5 4 6
Ground Floor 1 : 100
1. Reception 2. Wellness Room 3. Meeting Rooms 4. Multi-Purpose Room 5. Outdoor Study Area 6. Cafe
LEVEL 1 FLOORPLAN
8 10 11 7
7. Eatery 8. Group Study Area 1
Level 1 1 : 100
9. Terrace A 10. Utilities 11. Flexible Study Pods 12. Studio 13. Terrace B
LEVEL 2 FLOORPLAN
16 15 17 18 14
14. Eatery 15. Quiet Study Area 16. Terrace C 17. Utilities 18. Flexible Study Pods 19. Computer Lab 20. Terrace D
CUSTOM JOINERY Tracks sit above and below the modules, once seats have been folded into the panels, panels can be pushed towards the wall to clear up the space
Tables slot onto tracks recessed into floor, table is removeable and can fold completely flat
Seats fold up into ceiling height wooden panels
Glass panels on track system that can fold and completely open space
Glass doors to separate space, glass allows users to feel connected while still in a semi-private space
Easily moveable furniture for flexibility in use
Material and palette choices should invoke a calm feeling, allowing a welcoming feeling
Storage for any materials or supplies that may be necessary
Carpet flooring to increase comfort levels by softening the space and aiding Curtains in the space to add a level of privacy from the street
C R E AT I V E S T U D I O Extra storage for supplies for variety of classes that may be held
Acoustic panels lining the wall to aid acoustics, add a point of difference and soften the space Water services and sinks for bottle refills and cleaning of any equipment
Swipe access lockers for safe storage of any larger items/valuables
Partition system to separate spaces, lined with acoustic felt to aid in minimising noise Vinyl flooring for durability and maintenance
E AT E R Y
Placement of the kitchenette allows access to this space without having to interrupt or go through study zones
Swipe access lockers for safe storage of any larger items/valuables Integrated fridge to fold any food for normal use/events
Glass screening to separate entry and kitchenette, while simultaneously allowing the spaces to feel connected Instant hot/cold water services
TERRACE The Terrace that adjoins the primary study area is designed to feel part of the study area. The dividing wall is lined with a string of pivot doors that allows for the two spaces to become one and bridges the separation between the inside and the outside. This also aids ventilation in the interior and the greenery aids mental stress. Easily moveable furniture used within both spaces accommodates the variety of groups that may come through and does not restrict the spaces to a particular function.
The Bridge is designed to be a flexible space. As the other spaces in this building, The Bridge is designed with glass partitions on moveable tracks to maximise flexibility. Glass as the primary material of construction, allows users to feel a sense of unity and connection, while still having a level of privacy and separation. Accompanied by easily moveable furniture, The Bridge is completely flexible and never locked in to a certain use.
The Studio is designed to allow users to work creatively. This space includes a variety of work benches throughout and features durable materials to allow peace of mind when working on creative projects, from painting to modelling, this space gives you freedom to work on what you choose. The Studio also features moveable partition walls to divide the single space into three smaller areas, ideal for group work or classes hosted on the weekend. Lockers with swipe card access also allows users to leave materials and work in the centre without stress.
The Façade for the CNTR building was designed with the intent of being inviting to our intended users, avoiding the typical institutional feeling you may typically find with this type of facility. Using a light concrete render on the Ground Level and textured concrete panels on the levels above, allows this building to feel as though it belongs in the modern Dandenong CBD but the linear, bright coloured panels bring in an element of fun and stops us from taking this building too seriously. The existing foliage and street scape aids to soften the façade.
The Bridge was designed with transparency as the key feature. Using floor to ceiling windows on both levels, allows pedestrians to see through the building and through the courtyard below. At night the bridge is completely illuminated and instils the same transparency as it does during the day. The courtyard features round study areas that are recessed into the ground, accessible via ramp for optimal accessibility. Surrounded by foliage, this area offers shade and a feeling of tranquillity. The walkway under the bridge is made fun by the addition of swings to bring in the community and works well to connect the main building to the café in the South Wing.
MOVING F OR WARD
Moving forward, it would be ideal to use this research and design as a framework that can be used in suburbs similar around Australia. Implementing this framework in other low SES areas would be a great way to improve the quality of life and overall mental wellness of at risk youth.
REFERENCES Silverman, M; Sibbald, R & Stranges, S 2020, ‘Ethics of COVID-19-realted school closures’, Canadian journal of public health, vol. 111, pp. 462-465 Rudenstine, S et al 2021, ‘Depression and Anxiety During the COVID-19 Pandemic in an Urban, Low-Income Public University Sample’, Journal of traumatic stress, Vol. 34, pp. 12-22 Alvali, SMSZ & Samani, SA 2020, ‘Are Open-Plan Office Designs Still Popular After Coronavirus Pandemic?’, Performance improvement (International Society for Performance Improvement), Vol. 59, pp. 24-32 Liang, L, et al. 2020, ‘The Effect of COVID-19 on Youth Mental Health’, Psychiatric quarterly, Vol. 91, pp. 841-852 Warf, C 2020, ‘Coronavirus and Youth’, Child & Youth Services’, Vol. 41, pp. 316-319 Javed, B et al., 2020 ‘The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic’s impact on mental health’, The international journal of health planning and management, Vol. 35, pp. 993-996 Fish, JN et al., 2020, “I’m Kinda Stuck at Home With Unsupportive Parents Right Now”: LGBTQ Youths’ Experiences With COVID-19 and the Importance of Online Support”, Journal of Adolescent Health, Vol. 67, pp. 450-452 Lathika, AR; Soman, B 2020, ‘COVID-19 on Youth Mental Health’, Medical Journal Armed Forces India, Vol.77, pp. 111-112 Gabriel, MG et al., ‘Power and Social Control of Youth during the COVID-19 Pandemic’, Leisure Sciences, Vol.ahead-of-print, pp. 1-7 White, R 2001, ‘ Youth Participation in Designing Public Spaces’, Youth Studies AustraliaI, Vol. 20, pp. 18 Greene, J A et al. 2010, ‘Online Social Networking by Patients with Diabetes: A Qualitative Evaluation of Communication with Facebook’, Journal of General Medicine, Vol. 26, pp. 287-292 Angrosino, M. (2007). ‘Focus on Observation’, in Flick, U. (ed). Doing Ethnographic and Observational Research. London: SAGE Publications Ltd, pp. 53-66