As outlined in my design report, the Coroner’s Court has long been criticised for its lack of transparency. This not only refers to transparency in a material sense, but also in terms of public perception and understanding regarding the legal system and the forensic investigation process.
“No one tells you anything. You’ve got to find out as you’re going along. You’re not even on the same planet at the start. That’s something that really needs to be addressed.”
– Family Member one, (Australia Inquest Alliance 2013)
Architecture is a spatial configuration system that can either allow a space to appear ‘deep and hidden’, or ‘shallow and transparent’. In Julienne Hanson’s (Professor, Architectural Spacial Configuration) research on “the social logic of space”, this is also sometimes referred to as “space syntax”. Her theory on space syntax examines various architectural elements including voids, atriums and level changes, and the manner in which they create the perception of a shallow space.
My assignment involved employing these shallow space driven components to minimise the sense of mystery and opacity in a Corner’s Court. Using these components, my building maintains transparency while separating the graphic intensive facilities, including the morgue and autopsy rooms, from the publicly viewable laboratories, courtrooms and other legal aid facilities.
For the often troubled and disturbed attendees of the court, the perception of a shallow and transparent configuration allows the public to engage in a more emotionally prepared manner with the investigation process, legal aid and court proceedings without additional perceptual barriers.