Rio Tinto is one of the world’s largest mining companies and one of the single largest generators of economic wealth within Western Australia. Rio Tinto has a clear focus on the economic development of sustainable communities that provide for social wellbeing. The design of the Koodaideri Operations Village represents a different approach to accommodating staff in a remote location over a 60-year period. This focus on the health and wellbeing of the staff supports Rio Tinto as an employer of choice.
Rio Tinto embarked on a process to establish a design vision of a village that supports the health and wellbeing of employees in the remote Western Australian landscape. The project identified a new approach to accommodating 900 employees. This vision required Rio Tinto to think innovatively about its processes and progress through a consultative and inclusive design approach. These are the key design stages.
Establish a vision
- By establishing a vision for the project, the complex process of balancing competing demands is easier. The vision was for the village to be a healthy, safe and environmentally conscious place. A refuge outside of work hours, a place of respite, rest and social interaction. It will be a permanent village servicing the mine becoming a genuine community and a home away from home.
- The master planned approach to Koodaideri Village involved working closely with Rio Tinto, from initial site visit, to the vision and design workshop. This collaborative approach enabled Rio Tinto personnel to challenge their traditional work patterns. This process allowed for the sharing of central facilities (recreation, dining, entertainment, retail, administration) between the operations village and the nearby construction camp, bringing them together and enabling a potential cost saving of millions of dollars.
- Early on in the project an agreed set of urban design principles were developed and embedded into the design.
- The village plan provides a robust structure of walkable precincts that lead to a cohesive ‘village’ centre with a strong sense of place and well-planned public realm.
- An integrated approach to the design of open space links to the wider environment. At the centre of the site is a grassed oval, ringed by an activity track. The prominence of the oval within the design emphasises the importance of active living and provides a significant symbol of healthy recreation.
- An interconnected network of streets are safe, promote ‘way finding’, and support walking and cycling. The plan promotes the pedestrian experience and supports ease of access to the village hub by segregating pedestrians and cars.
- The village plan provides a diversity of accommodation types, with appropriate orientation to minimise heat gain and provide shelter from the sun and wind. There are many unit options for single occupants as well as family and executive units.
- A close relationship with the landscape is encouraged with trees and planting used for shading, cooling, and the creation of a microclimate.
- It is important for the employees to enjoy the benefits of good design similar to those in the towns and cities of Western Australia. To ensure and measure the success of this permanent village, the design ethos and parameters are tested against a matrix of ‘enhanced design criteria’ established during the design process. This enables Rio Tinto to refine the design of the village over time and establish places with positive health and wellbeing outcomes into the future.
- Rio Tinto
The Koodaideri Village plan establishes many health, economic, environmental, social and use benefits.