Blacktown Animal Rehoming Centre by Sam Crawford Architects
The largest pet rescue centre in the Southern Hemisphere has opened, with capacity for up to 380 cats and dogs to take up residence in the Sam Crawford Architects designed facility.
Blacktown Animal Rehoming Centre (BARC) houses a cattery, a reception building, kennels, veterinarian facilities and back-of-house, as well as multipurpose areas that support public education programs for animal training and pre-adoption.
The centre has been designed for the wellbeing of the animals and humans. “It was a juggling act to balance the highly technical requirements of animal welfare, the diverse needs of cats and dogs, with the desire for a safe and welcoming building for staff and visitors,” said architect Sam Crawford. “We undertook extensive international research, and our design is benchmarked against world’s best practice in animal welfare.”
The building is arranged into six elongated rural sheds that reach out into the landscape like stretched-out fingers.
“The long, finger-like design allows the animals to have a direct connection to the surrounding landscape, increasing their interaction with nature and people. This layout maximizes thermal, visual and aural comfort, minimizing distress, assisting with rehabilitation, and providing amenity for staff,” Crawford continued.
“Maximizing the connection with nature is such an important part of the design. For the animals obviously, but also as relief for staff compassion-fatigue, and to balance the necessary hard surfaces required for hygiene and durability. It also de-institutionalizes the spaces and makes them feel more welcoming.”
Each of the sheds is linked by covered walkways that separate dogs and cats through different movement pathways. The reception building creates a civic space with viewing rooms for potential pets, a function area for events and multi-coloured play rooms for cats.
Colour is an important aspect of the design, explained Sam Crawford Architects associate director Gabrielle Pelletier.
“We engaged artist and colourist Lymesmith to create a bold colour scheme, which resulted in each of the six buildings delineated by the colours of a unique native bird ambassador,” she said.
“In addition, the Bird Screen, a 100-metre-long, abstract artwork of brightly multicoloured vertical blades, references local birds flittering through the bush and identifies and links the six buildings. The colours assist with wayfinding but also inject some fun, uplifting staff and visitor experiences, in a venue typology that traditionally can feel a bit cold and impersonal.”
Extensive landscaped areas by JMD Design surround the buildings and are filled with drought-tolerant, shade-giving, low-maintenance plants that also serve as habitats for the local birds depicted in the art. The landscape acts as a biofiltre, which promotes storm water absorption on the site.
The project also incorporates a solar PV array, EV car chargers, and heat exchange airconditioning.