Student Stories

Kimberley Gates: Empowering Regional Mothers through Third Space Design

Nathan Little
Manager, Communications & Programs
June 20, 2023


In the realm of mental health services, there exists a group often referred to as the "missing middle" — individuals whose needs are not adequately met. Kimberley Gates, a former student of Barossa Regional University Campus, embarked on a mission to address this gap through her research in Third Space Design for Regional Mothers. In this article, we delve into Kimberley's inspiring journey, highlighting her dedication to empowering regional mothers and creating inclusive spaces for their well-being.

Understanding the 'Missing Middle'

The term "missing middle" has gained prominence in recent years, describing individuals who do not fit within the current framework of mental health services. Kimberley recognized the challenges faced by regional mothers in particular and sought to bridge the gap by exploring the concept of Third Space Design.

Kimberley's research journey unfolded in two volumes, focusing on how interior architecture can support the missing middle mothers in the regional mid-north of South Australia. Volume one involved investigating the needs and challenges faced by these mothers, while volume two delved into the findings and guidelines derived from the research. This comprehensive approach allowed Kimberley to create a foundation for her site-specific Third Space design.

Through her research, Kimberley aimed to develop a space that would provide a supportive and inclusive environment, promoting their mental well-being and addressing the unique challenges they face. Kimberley's vision encompassed multiple areas, including a counselling room and a yoga/meditation space, ensuring that a holistic approach to mental health was embraced.

The Counselling Room designed by Kimberley
Yoga and meditation space
The entrance to the Third Space is held within the Thomson Building located in Kapunda, which is currently the Light Regional Public Library.

Achievements and Recognition

Kimberley's outstanding academic performance earned her the Design and the Built Environment's Head of School Most Outstanding Online Student Honours B.AppSc (Interior Architecture) Award from Curtin University. This accolade celebrated her remarkable achievements and marked her as a trailblazer in her field.

Reflecting on her journey, Kimberley shares, "Studying the needs of regional mothers and designing a Third Space to support them has been an incredibly fulfilling experience. I am honored to receive the Most Outstanding Online Student Honours Award and be recognized for my dedication to this important cause."

Barossa Campus: A Catalyst for Success

Kimberley attributes part of her success to Barossa Campus, which provided a nurturing and conducive environment for her studies. The campus served as a sanctuary away from home, offering quiet spaces for concentration, exams, and presentations.

"Barossa Campus provided the perfect study environment." says Kimberley. "Its peaceful and supportive atmosphere allowed me to focus on my research and excel in my studies. I am truly thankful for the opportunities it provided," she says.

Advice from Kimberley

Kimberley encourages students to persevere, stay motivated, and appreciate the entire journey. She emphasizes the significance of taking breaks, connecting with loved ones, and finding support in times of loneliness.

"Remember that the path to success may not always be easy, but perseverance and support are key. Take breaks, cherish your loved ones, and find solace in the journey itself. You are capable of achieving great things," she says.


Kimberley Gates' research journey in Third Space Design for Regional Mothers exemplifies her commitment to empowering the "missing middle" and addressing their mental health needs. Through her dedication, she has shed light on the importance of inclusive spaces and the transformative impact they can have. Kimberley's story serves as an inspiration, urging students to make a difference in the world and embrace the challenges on their academic path.

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