IT could be the calming sensation you feel when you walk in the front door of your home and kick off your shoes, or sense of camaraderie you feel at your local sport club, or any attachment you feel to a place that reflects your identity – a sense of place can mean many things.
It is something that architects and interior designers try to incorporate into their designs, and there is extensive research that shows not only how a positive attachment to the place where we live is important to identity, but that the absence of this connection can be devastating to mental health.
A sense of place is not something normally associated with the clinical, sterile accommodation of Australia’s FIFO sector, but one WA collective is hoping to change that.
Project Blue was formed by interior design firm Seven Willows, commercial furniture manufacturer the Robinson Group and construction company Grounded Construction, after a meeting with a mining client who raised concerns about just how bad the accommodation on site could be.
Sharon Wiley from Seven Willows said that the focus had been to make a conceptual shift toward the way mining companies think about the accommodation they provide.
“We want to make a difference, and to improve mental health on the mine site by focussing on certain attributes, speaking to the right people, and by designing projects with mental health in mind,” she said.
Project Blue can fit out or retrofit FIFO accommodation from concept and design through to manufacture and installation.
“FIFO workers are on-site 12 hours per day; when they come off shift they need to feel human, not like a wheel or a cog in a machine, they are a part of a wider community and they are making a difference,” Ms Wiley said.
“They spend a large part of their lives away from loved ones and they need to feel a home environment.”
Project Blue has social interaction at its core, and by creating common areas outside of the pub or the wet mess, Ms Wiley hopes to encourage social interaction and promote wellness.
And with more reading spaces and leisure areas, she hopes the design of the camps themselves can draw people out of their rooms to interact with one another.
“It’s that third space, it’s about the things that can help to stimulate you in calm and restful ways,” she said.
“Everyone feels valued when they are a part of a community and they are not so isolated.
“That’s the kind of message we want to send, and it’s the kind of message we want mining companies to send.”
Project Blue is officially launching on August 22 at the Laminex showroom in Perth, WA.