Shepparton Law Courts was unveiled today in Shepparton, Victoria by the Honourable Martin Pakula MP, Attorney-General. The striking five-level building’s innovative design reflects key international trends that are considered significantly important in modern law court design.
Architectus Director and lead designer behind the project, Mark Wilde, says utmost importance was placed on making the courts a welcoming environment, especially given many people within will be going through trying circumstances. As a result, Shepparton’s famous Red River Gum tree was used as an inspiration behind the entrance lobby design, with timber used as a primary material, coupled with curved ceilings and perforated light throughout. The air-conditioning has even been programmed to feel like a natural breeze.
“First and foremost, a court building needs to be a welcoming facility. Courts can be a stressful place for people so our focus is to design court buildings which are sensitive and supportive of all its occupants. To bring a sense of calmness to Shepparton Law Courts, we used the region’s ancient River Red Gum trees as a reference throughout the design.
“The ancient tree has a distorted root system that anchors it to the ground and filters perforated sunlight through its canopy. This image was the starting point for the ideas that informed the design of the welcoming entry lobby at the Shepparton Law Courts.
“As a result, the lobby’s design gives the illusion of being beneath a leafy tree, with timber used as a primary material, coupled with curved ceilings and perforated light throughout. The air-conditioning has even been programmed to feel like a natural breeze.”
Using as much natural light as possible was also a key consideration in the design given the importance placed on this in modern law court design, with clear triple glazed windows, translucent glass, sunscreens and variable blinds that wrap around the courts and public waiting halls, providing a connection to the outside environment, as well as a sense of time and respite.
“Natural lighting was also a key consideration given the importance placed on this in recent law court design. Allowing daylight to enter a space provides a connection to the outside environment and gives those within a sense of time and respite. To achieve consistent light throughout the building, we landed on a two-courts-per-floor design, which eliminated the traditional long corridors and provided a seamless connection between the forecourt, lobby, and court rooms.
“The design’s delicate arrangement of clear triple glazed windows, translucent glass, sunscreens and variable blinds that wrap around the courts and public waiting halls are a response to our desire to convey openness and transparency, while also maintaining sophisticated controls for security and privacy.”
“We started with three guiding principles, solidified by the local community in Shepparton: natural light, reference to the famous Red River Gum, and use of natural materials and brick work that linked to other local buildings in the area. We centered the design around these core elements throughout the entire planning and consultation process with the local community, and the overall look and feel of the building reflects this.”
Shepparton Law Courts development is managed by Court Services Victoria.
Architect: Architectus+GHDWoodhead+Guymer Bailey Architects
Photography: Scott Burrows Photographer