Studio project – justice architecture
The new Supreme Court of Victoria stands for justice within the heart of Melbourne; it creates a presence in the very day lives of the public by it’s siting at the junction of Burke St and Swanston St. The large entry and continuation of the street into the ground floor allows for the building to engage with the public at street level. It maintains the security and functional requirements of a conventional court house with separate circulation for public, protected witnesses, jury, judicial and custodial. From the outside, the public circulation through the building is visible and provides visual interest from the street.
Each courtroom is adjacent to a series of meeting and interview rooms, along with a variety of waiting spaces for the public. All spaces have been designed to allow in natural light and offer views to the outside. This is to help users feel more at ease as a court house is a serious and heavy place and can be intimidating – being able to look outside has proven to have calming results.
The Supreme Court does not aim to be ‘open and transparent’ like some court house models have adopted, rather it aims to engage with the outside public by allowing a certain level of transparency on the public face and then slowly gradiates to a private space which is the courtrooms as the ongoings of a trial may be quite personal and secretive to some.
The design aims to relate back to the public as ‘justice’ is a system prevalent in every day lives. Within the court house, the planning and brief accommodate for the various user groups of the building and allow for parallel function for public and private requirements.