Orygen and OYH Parkville

Billard Leece Partnership

Orygen and OYH Parkville is a new youth mental health facility, where the needs and wishes of young people are the top priority. It was purpose-built to accommodate Orygen, a cutting-edge research, policy development, training, education, and innovative clinical services organisation; and Orygen Youth Health (OYH), a specialised mental health clinic with an integrated training/communications program for young people aged 15-25.

Orygen’s siting is a rare combination of both an inner-city urban location and a natural bush setting. The building itself is a series of pavilions shaped around a central courtyard. An established apple bark tree – a symbol of resilience, strength and agility – grounds the site and forms the heart of an extraordinary bushland environment. Biophilic design is expressed throughout the three-storey building, comprising offices, consulting suites, training spaces, outdoor decks and a café.

Expansive landscaped outdoor decks form transitional spaces that tier down the sloped site. Multiple access points enable young people, families and staff members to easily have consultation sessions outdoors, breaking down any institutional feel. An open-plan approach allows users choice of environment and flexibility to move, and dissolves departmental boundaries.

The building doesn’t have a grand entrance, but a discrete introduction that gently welcomes and embraces. A casual and relaxed open space with lots of greenery, natural light, coffee tables, warm timber finishes and a variety of seating options avoids waiting room clichés. These were the wishes of the client – young people.

Underpinned by universal design principles, facilities can be easily utilised for different needs without isolating or excluding any population group – an important part of Orygen’s and OYH’s commitment to inclusivity. A range of different indoor/outdoor, formal/informal meeting, activity and consultation spaces complete a welcoming, supportive and healthy environment, where young people are empowered with choice and agency.

Photography: Ian Ten Seldam.