The original 1960s change room for the Sunbury Public Baths were a utilitarian offering- a concrete floor, painted brick walls and an abundance of fresh air and daylight provided by the space between the walls and roof. A redevelopment in the 1980s introduced enclosure as an expression of amenity. The introduction of full height walls, layers of doorways and a reliance on artificial lighting and ventilation, reflected the change in values at that time, exchanging the connectedness and simplicity of the original with the isolation and excess of the new.
Like the 1960s original and the 1980s redevelopment, Canvas’ approach to the 2018 redevelopment of the Sunbury Aquatic Centre change rooms is a reflection of our collective values at a point in time. We understand that these values will shift with time again, and so we mindfully craft a fabric for this iteration to hopefully last until the next shift. Referencing the spirit of the original 1960s offering, walls separating spaces within each change room do not meet the ceiling, and provide each space with a connection to another and to the new skylight void connecting them all. This acts as both a gesture of connection and passive surveillance, lost during the 1980’s redevelopment.
In response to the ‘pink for girls’ and ‘blue for boys’ gendered signifiers adopted in the 1980s redevelopment, we ask if such pervasive reinforcement of gender though colour is relevant or necessary at this time. Could gender neutrality reinforced by colour be a better representation of our collective values at this point in our history? How would such an approach sit against the tension of a multi-cultural & multi-generational change room? We believe the relevance of this conundrum to the people of Sunbury at this point in time is not so much in what the answer may be, but more in the act of asking this very question.