This is the first built stage of the overall masterplan for the Dandenong City Public Park renewal.
Our brief was to deliver a sculptural element in the park as well as a functional toilet block. It needed to sit within the landscape without dominating it. It needed to be robust, low maintenance and graffiti resistant yet visually delightful and pleasant to occupy.
The shape draws on the remnant red gums along the adjacent Dandenong Creek and the historical use in Australia of the burnt-out stump as a landscape marker, shelter and wayfinding device.
The sculptural shell is constructed from in-situ concrete, cast in four pours. The shape looks complex but it was constructed using straight segments of formwork. The segments were reused in each concrete-pour.
The timber formwork makes deep furrows in the monolithic, twisting concrete surface, animating it throughout the day with contrasts of light and shadow.
It’s suggestive of the silvery, weathered surface of the ancient river red gum, but still robust and practical.
The sweeping, asymmetric form of the wall, peaking at 7.5m high, looks different from various locations around the park and beyond.
The wall’s perimeter has a low galvanized steel shroud housing an LED light, which gently illuminates the wall at night with light diffused off a bed of quartz pebbles.
The dark metal-clad doors are overhung by a disk-like roof gently propped on the masonry wall fronting the cubicles, and enveloped by the shell wall.
The sombre, earthy pallet of the sheltered undercroft contrasts with bursts of colour from the interiors, with red, orange and yellow glazed bricks.
They reference the colours of the surrounding remnant bushland: yellow gum flowers and the vibrant reds and oranges of bark after rain.
We used robust materials such as tinted concrete, stainless steel fittings and fixtures, powder-coated plywood soffits, glazed bricks and sealed concrete floors. The cubicles are naturally lit during the day via circular skylights.
A rainwater tank at the back harvests water for flushing.
Part sculpture, part civic building, this not-so-humble toilet block celebrates the existing natural context of the site and is part of a renewed landscape in central Dandenong.