Peacock Centre Redevelopment


Mental Health Facility

On 7 December 2016, the Peacock Centre in North Hobart was significantly damaged by arson.  The facility was the metropolitan base of several southern mental health services and workers, all displaced as a result. Notwithstanding this significant setback, the Department of Health seized the opportunity to implement a new approach to mental health care and worked with Xsquared Architects to develop a vision for the new Centre; a multi-service facility for people with mental health issues which supports personal agency and empowerment, reduces stigma, and contributes to a sustainable community. Under this model, clients are recognised as experts in their own mental health and are placed at the centre of all care in a warm, welcoming environment.

Best practise design for mental health care and heritage restoration to its original condition of ‘Ruardean’ – the home of  W.D. Peacock – enables the Peacock Centre to be reinstated as a significant community asset. Work involves re-roofing and general repair; removal of insensitive later additions; construction of a new addition, compatible with and sensitive to the existing building; and restoration of the original greenhouse and surrounding heritage gardens.

A new two storey building replaces the demolished 1960s addition and adjoins the west side of Ruardean. A small connection point between the buildings allows a visual divide to be made between the old and new when viewed from Swan Street, with a recessed junction between the two forms. The new building lengthens and widens behind Ruardean as it extends towards Elphinstone Road, creating an enclosing “L” shape. The general shape and composition of the new building focusses on the qualities of light, space, colour, materiality and the outdoor environment.  Levels within the new building respond to the existing levels within Ruardean, allowing the new building to recede into the slope of the land as the site climbs towards Elphinstone Road.

The exterior design clearly distinguishes between ‘new’ and ‘old’, with the new wing geometrically and materially differentiated from Ruardean, including incorporating large windows, curved elements, a different form and type of roofing, and extensive use of timber screens as part of the building’s cladding. New elements are calming and beautiful, with a strong emphasis on the incorporation of natural materials and planting into the design.

Interiors play a key role in the ambience and performance of the Centre. In response to the WELL Building Standards ambitions embedded within the project, emphasis on indoor environmental quality, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, mind, and community influenced the design.  This includes considerations of beauty.

In detail, the redevelopment includes 12 short stay bedrooms; communal visitor spaces; personal reflection spaces; treatment/counselling spaces; a small Safe Haven cafe with a kitchen; and ancillary and multipurpose spaces for staff and users. As well as a wide range of internal personal reflection spaces, new and restored landscaping provides external alternatives, with gardens open to the broader community.

The Peacock Centre Redevelopment restores and enhances vital mental health services in southern Tasmania and continues the important legacy of W.D. Peacock.

Photos by Natasha Mulhall