Design guide for refuge accommodation for women and children

Domestic violence emergency accommodation Crisis accommodation Building design Australia

The relevance of architecture and design for social impact is important in this project. The quality of space matters enormously for those working with and those experiencing trauma, particularly for the long-term goal of rehabilitation and healing. Tailored spatial design can address user needs and complex issues of safety, dignity and flexibility beyond the pragmatic needs of a temporary place to stay. Attention to aesthetics and a nuanced approach to furnishing, lighting and fitting out spaces can make a difference to time spent in the refuge.

The purpose of this design guide is to assist those working towards improving refuge accommodation for vulnerable women and children escaping violence in the home. It provides a foundation for developing fit-for-purpose accommodation and aims to:

  • establish an understanding of the needs of refuge residents, workers and managers to assist those who seek to improve existing or provide new accommodation
  • outline how this type of accommodation will positively contribute to urban/regional streetscape and communities
  • provide practical design and construction ideas for future pilot studies and tailored design projects that address the issues faced by women and children leaving domestic and family violence
  • assist funding bodies, supervisory boards and interdisciplinary services requiring more specific briefs for fit-for-purpose facilities
  • inform councils and other consent authorities assessing new refuge facility proposals and building upgrades
  • provide recommendations to improve design outcomes for refuge services in the longer term
  • potentially support women leaving crisis accommodation to better understand the attributes of well-designed spaces in future permanent housing

This guide includes research findings on the potential of tailored design projects to address issues faced by women and children leaving domestic and family violence.

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