The Luna Child and Youth Advocacy Centre is an accessible, multi-disciplinary facility located on the west campus of the University of Calgary where issues of child trauma are dealt with and it is a workplace for its staff and partner agencies (e.g., CPS, Social Services, Legal, Medical and Rehabilitation Services). The centre’s mandate requires delicate handling of each situation, caring for the child’s mental and physical health, while collecting evidence of abuse to quickly determine the appropriate social or legal action.
While the Luna Child and Youth Advocacy Centre is about treating children and families impacted by child abuse, it involves both the evidence-gathering as well as strategies and tactics implemented to support healing from traumatic abuse. The sophistication of the design is in how the children are delicately separated from their immediate context (human and environmental) in order to get them to a state of trust and in a safer place. We achieved such as evidenced by our design of the fourth floor with two distinct areas. Primarily, the child-play area is a space designed to provide an “escape” from the child’s trauma and ease them into opening up about their abuse experience. The new area facilitates the induction of trauma separation through the use of colourful furniture, garden motifs, animal-themed images and playground apparatus that, together, create notions of a whimsical and fun place—a safe place to call their own.
The other half of the floor plate accommodates the partner organizations that provide action (legal or social), education and rehabilitation. The project layout was heavily influenced on how best to support the children experiencing abuse and, as importantly, the well-being of various people who deal with the cases of child abuse. Design considerations included the bright, welcoming, fun motifs in the play area, acoustically isolated interview rooms, medical examination rooms, a ‘war room’ for collaborative investigations and decompression areas for the staff, designed with ample natural light and access to mountain views.