Midin Clinic Atherton
Role: Principal Architect
Builder: Hutchinson Builders
Client: Mulungu Aboriginal Corporation Primary Health Care Service
The Midin Clinic in Atherton raises the bar in the delivery of indigenous health services in the region. A place that is safe and welcoming for First Nations people, Mulungu's new facility is providing wider community benefits including hi-tech 3D dental imaging.
Connection to country is referenced internally and externally through building design and material choices and includes recognition of the rainforests and streams that surround Atherton. The story of the Seven Sisters is acknowledged in the profile of the Training Building roof and the columns for the porte cochere in the Clinic Building. The design allows visual access from internal public spaces to external spaces, and sight lines through the west wing in keeping with cultural surveillance practices.
The Midin Clinic provided opportunity for local indigenous artists to display their skills with the possum sculpture, wallpapers and designer textiles all having meaning that connects strongly with Country and/or healing.
Interior Design Methodology
Freshwater streams and rivers meander their way through the country of the Atherton Tablelands. They are sources of freshwater food – fish, yabbies and mussels. Traditionally women gave birth near the banks of such streams and rivers. The Clinic entry and waiting areas were designed to reference walking through a freshwater stream in the rainforest. Visually the vinyl flooring design references the moving water of flowing streams and rivers in. The vertical elements of the spotted gum timber screens reference the tree trunks. The acoustic upholstery references the plants and bird life in the surrounding forest growth. The finishes palette in both colour and interior finishes selection throughout the Clinic and Training Building align with the freshwater stream and surrounds of the rain and eucalypt forests.
Architectural Design Methodology
The major architectural design intent was to provide a space that made people feel welcome and safe whether they were staff or clients. The Board wanted the Clinic to set a high standard not just for Indigenous health clinics across Australia, but also for architecture in Atherton. We believe we have achieved this with a design that is not a square box with rabbit warren maze typical of the Health Clinic genre. The Clinic has been designed for Indigenous people referencing Country in built forms and selection of materials, visual access from internal public spaces to external spaces, and sight lines through the west wing in keeping with cultural surveillance practices. Where possible we have created extended sight lines so people can see each other from a distance and a sense of not being ‘boxed’ in while waiting for your appointment.
Architecturally, both buildings have their own reference to the Seven Sisters story associated with the region. The porte cochere at the entrance to the Clinic Building has seven columns whilst the silhouette pattern of the roof to the Training Building follows the silhouette of the Seven Sisters when view from Atherton. The silhouette is reinforced with the screen behind the battens also taking the same shape. In early afternoons, the shadows thrown onto the northern face of the Training Building also portray the outline of the Seven Sisters.
The support of local artists was sought and included in key locations. Indij Design believe that this will add a sense of ‘ownership’ to staff and clients when they see art, colour and culture embedded into the design – a sense that ‘Our Mob’ were involved. An example is the possum artwork on the main signage wall that was created by a local artist (Wayne McGinness) who was born in Atherton. This combined with the non-institutional design creates a place where people can feel safe.