taking justice into the 21st century By David Said
The new Western Australia District Court building in Perth, which opened in June 2008, not only provides the people of Western Australia with a state of the art facility incorporating the very latest security and communications technology, but also delivers justice with a human face and gives Perth a handsome new landmark building in the heart of the central business district.
Fernando Faugno, of Cox Howlett & Bailey Woodland Architects, designed the new courthouse to meet three important judicial objectives. The first was to create an appropriate and dignified setting for the enactment of justice with due regard for practical needs such as security and separate access and accommodation for prisoners, jurors, judges, witnesses and the public. The second was to provide a non-intimidating and reassuring environment for the people who would use the building in their capacity as witnesses, victims, family members, jurors litigants, accused and legal professionals. The third was to accommodate the array of support, technical and administrative systems that are essential to modern judicial procedures. The District Court consists of two separate buildings linked at the upper levels by bridges across a three stories high glazed atrium that provides an interlude of light, space and peace for those who are about to enter the often stressful justice process. There is also a garden that people involved in court proceedings can visit for a few moments of relaxation. The three storey building facing Irwin St,
which houses reception, administration and victim and witness support services, has been limited in height to ensure that it does not block natural light from entering the court rooms and judges' chambers in the main building behind it. This 12 storey main structure, which accommodates 24 courtrooms, is actually the equivalent height of a 16 storey building, utilising the extra ceiling height to add a formal
dimension to the environment in which legal proceedings take place. From the outside, the new courthouse can be identified from a distance by an abstract metal sculpture more than 12 metres tall. It was created in gleaming aluminium by well known Western Australian artist Anne Neil and its corner position makes it visible from both Hay and Irwin Streets.
The heritage-listed portico of the 1899 St George's Hall is incorporate in the facade of the new building. Image courtesy of Brookfield Multiplex
he 27,000 square metre court building, which cost $195 million, was designed by Cox Howlett & Bailey Woodland and built by Brookfield Multiplex as a PPP (public private partnership) between the State Government and Western Liberty Group, a consortium led by banker ABN Amro. The PPP agreement will continue for 27 years from construction commencement, since Western Liberty will maintain the building, provide custodial security and manage the facility until 2035. The District Court is Western Australiaâ€™s newest tier of justice, created in 1969 as an intermediate level between the magistrate courts and the state Supreme Court, but it has never had a home of its own in Perth before. The striking new building on the corner of Hay and Irwin Streets is situated just across the road from the Central Law Court building that houses the Magistrateâ€™s Courts and is linked to it beneath Hay Street.
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