Kaunitz Yeung Architecture unveil Aboriginal health clinic

Sydney-based Kaunitz Yeung Architecture has announced the official opening of the Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Services (PAMS) Newman clinic, the first Aboriginal health clinic in the remote town of Newman, located 1200-kilometres north of Perth. The project has been completed on time and within budget, despite the challenges of COVID-19.

The clinic, which cost eight million dollars and was funded by the Federal Department of Health, was commissioned by the Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Services (PAMS) to help communities in remote areas access better healthcare. Having an operational centre means that members of the community will no longer have to travel to Perth for treatment but will be able to access the visiting clinicians and allied health professionals who come to the clinic.

The project called for a state-of-the-art regional primary health care facility to be the physical embodiment of the ethos of PAMS and place wellness at the centre of community. Community focused, connected to country, incorporating culture and providing the highest standard of primary health care.

The firm is well known and internationally awarded for their work in remote Aboriginal communities and Director David Kaunitz says Newman is the culmination of more than a decade of working and living in remote Aboriginal communities and integrates design, sustainability, clinical and prefabrication techniques from two earlier projects, the Punmu and Parnngurr Aboriginal Health Clinics in the Western Australian Desert, 1800 kilometres from Perth, and 500 kilometres from the nearest towns.

Key features of the building include:

  • The use of sustainable materials – the building has been constructed exclusively with earth from the site, also known as rammed earth, which reduces the embodied energy of the building which would have otherwise been clad in manufactured materials transported from Perth, 1400 kilometres away, or concrete. Rammed earth creates a human and intuitive connection to its place
  • State-of-the-art insulation which assists in keeping the heat out – essential for the 40-50° summer temperatures Newman often experiences
  • A 150kW rooftop photovoltaic system delivering the largest solar power rooftop in the area which will offer a 13 per cent increase in power to the local community as well as providing 85 per cent of the medical clinic’s own electricity (according to Australian Photovoltaic Institute data)

Speaking of the building, David Kaunitz Director and lead architect at Kaunitz Yeung Architecture said, “Good buildings are not possible without great clients. This project is the culmination of all we have learnt from working with Martu communities for the last four years and the communities of the Western Australian Desert for the last decade.”

“We take the time to listen to our clients and stakeholders without preconceptions. We do not prejudge their perspectives. By making a genuine effort to incorporate all perspectives, unique architecture is formed, architecture that is contextualised to people, place and culture, architecture with an inherent relevance.”

“This project shows what is possible from true collaboration with Aboriginal people. Their generosity and wisdom have taught us so much.”

Robby Chibawe, CEO of PAMS, said, “The respectful and collaborative approach by Kaunitz Yeung Architecture with the Martu Elders and communities has created a deep sense of ownership and pride in this health centre amongst the local community.”

“Designing, creating and delivering a new building on time and within a tight budget is hard enough, let alone in the midst of global pandemic, but David and his team did just that with an abundance of professionalism and care.”

Kaunitz Yeung Architecture’s projects have received numerous awards in Australia and abroad, among them several European Healthcare Design Awards and Leading European Architects Forum Sustainability Awards, a World Community Architecture Award and three x 2018 NSW Architecture Awards for the Biripi Purfleet Aboriginal health clinic.


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