Rivergum Residential Treatment Centre has been designed as a place of rehabilitation for prisoners who have finished their prison sentences, but the courts deem too much of a risk. Instead, they receive a year of intensive treatment in the therapeutic community of Rivergum to support their rehabilitation.
Rivergum aims to reduce the risk of residents and to support their transition to the community. Rivergum achieves this by providing intensive treatment, supervision and support in a therapeutic community. Rivergum’s therapeutic operating philosophy is underpinned by evidence with a strong emphasis on independent living, peer group influence, and group treatment interventions.
Rivergum houses 20 residents across 20 individual living units and caters for over 50 staff. The main building houses the entry to the facility, visitor areas, program and recreation spaces for residents and staff offices and facilities. To enhance living quality for both residents and staff in the facility, evidence-based biophilic design principles were integrated throughout to provide therapeutic relief. This also guided the landscape design. From nearly every internal space across the centre, you can look out the window and see a landscaped garden, courtyard, or the mountains beyond.
The facility is heavily focused around environmentally sustainable design. Elements include high-performance double-glazed windows and operable louvres, mixed-mode ventilation systems, geothermal heating and cooling, continuous insulation and thermal mass consideration. These initiatives are part of the whole building life cycle consideration including reducing energy consumption and providing value benefits for the users in the long term. Passive design is implemented into the building orientations and layouts to assist with natural daylighting and ventilation. All these elements also benefit living quality by providing high indoor air quality, which has been proven to be critical in human well-being.
Sustainable design initiatives also continue externally. The staff carpark north of the site utilises a solar panel shade structure, which provides a two-fold use: collects solar power and provides shade and protection for the staff vehicles. The power collected from these panels is stored in batteries on site, which is used by the facility. The site also recycles water, capturing stormwater through a network of swales both inside and outside the facility that direct water to underground water tanks and used for irrigation. The sewerage on site is also treated by feeding into a treatment plant on an adjacent facility and the greywater is reused there for irrigation.
There are various types of external spaces distributed across the centre, including some shared facilities such as a half basketball court, BBQ, multi-faith chapel and contemplative garden. They vary from private to shared uses, catering for the variety of emotional states that residents may experience on a day-to-day basis.
Rivergum is a benchmark facility, not only from a design and architectural perspective but from a rehabilitation perspective. Designed to have a positive impact, it is likely to bring about a paradigm shift in the way we perceive corrections and justice across Australia.