A new home for Perth’s Australian Red Cross Blood Service

Many of our works involve the refurbishment of heritage buildings and as a practice we’re committed to preserving Australia’s built environment through carefully considered, sensitive design. One such project exemplifying this approach is the recently completed Australian Red Cross Blood Service (ARCBS) on the north-eastern fringe of Perth’s CBD.

The original Hawkins & Sands-designed structure has undergone a number of major renovations since its construction in 1957, so the DesignInc team had a rich tapestry with which to work. In response, we embraced the structure’s characteristically time-worn qualities and crisp contemporary interventions, delivering an outcome that both conserves and exposes the existing fabric to great effect.

As the primary processing and distribution hub of blood products for the entirety of Western Australia, it was imperative the facility remain fully operational during the construction period. So the refurbishments were meticulously staged across a four-year period with no service interruptions. The facilities laboratories and workspaces were completely overhauled and greater integration between different areas of the organisation was implemented. Not only did we bring the planning in line with current workplace practices, but we also futureproofed the facility.

Floor plates across the five-storey building were opened up to improve circulation paths and services are contained within a backbone arrangement that can be reconfigured at a later date. The material palette is fresh and contemporary – built-in timber seating greets visitors in the lobby and pops of pink, purple and blue punctuate communal work areas – perfectly balancing the existing exposed brick walls.

Significantly, this structure was one of the country’ first truly curtain-walled buildings, featuring aluminium glazed curtain walls with a concrete frame and floors. Our refurbishments offer a visual balance and harmony that respects the heritage value, while bringing the building well and truly into the 21st century.

Photography by Dion Robeson