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Monday, June 23, 2008

RSPCA Buildings

RSPCA Buildings in Victoria, Australia by NHArchitecture

Australia' Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) is an organization that aims to protect animals via a number of measures, from legislation and education to animal care and shelter. The organization is comprised of eight state/territory branches, including one for Victoria in southeastern Australia, the smallest but densest of the country's states. RSPCA Victoria's headquarters is located in Burwood, a suburb of Melbourne.

Designed by NHArchitecture, the headquarters is a three-phase redevelopment with construction complete on the first, which houses five buildings housing 200 dog kennels. By breaking the first phase into five buildings, the architects give each dog natural light and air and provide for open spaces for the dogs. While the extent of facade is greater than if the kennels fit in one building, the cladding is done in inexpensive corrugated metal painted in black and white bands, colors that stimulate the dogs.

While RSPCA Victoria's headquarters will continue to grow, the organization is also undertaking the construction of regional shelters. One such, also designed by NHArchitecture, is located in the town of Portland in southwestern Victoria. It is the first of a series of shelters by the architects that respond to numerous special requirements: demountability (due to being used on Council land for limited durations) and expandability (to add or remove facilities not needed in certain regions).

The architects responded to these requirements by designing a prefabricated structure raised above the ground plane. The plan is made up of parallelogram modules with public and private sides to each. Placed end to end, these pieces creating snaking buildings that are inviting in their public facades, open and embracing. The building provides space for animals, retail, and education, with outdoor shelters and exercise area for dogs. It can be seen as a remote extension of the Burwood facility -- architecturally as well as organizationally -- with a subtle branding (primarily via angles) extending the reach of RSPCA and its various ambitions.

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