In 2004 Deakin University identified their existing Science facilities located in building ‘ka’ at the Waurn Ponds campus as being sub standard and sought to develop a contemporary learning and research environment which integrated with the existing campus as a whole.
The original Science Building was built in the early 1970s with 3 stories and a floor area of 9000m². In the late 1980s a further 4500m² was added in the form of two basements and a rooftop extension. A further 2500m² was added in the early 1990s with the construction of a new three story wing to the north-west. The original building contained asbestos in the form of ceiling tiles and fire retarding spray to the steel floor trusses and columns; however the subsequent extensions did not.
To carry out the refurbishment works the asbestos had to be removed, which was complicated by the partial occupation of the building. The works were required to be staged and a number of smaller projects were undertaken to enable the decanting of the existing occupants. On consolidation of the School of Science there was 6500m² of unallocated area, which was proposed as the location of the new School of Medicine.
Both the Schools of Medicine and Science were envisaged as a modern facility, publicly showcasing the faculty through transparency, constructed fit for purpose yet adaptable to changing requirements. The building is seen as an education and research friendly environment delivering a contemporary curriculum that exceeds stakeholder and community expectations and has become a landmark building within a maturing campus and region.
An important component of the new direction in university trends is the blurring of boundaries between departments and research Institutes. Cross fertilisation of ideas and often across disciplines is seen more likely to generate new ideas or act as a catalyst for their further development. It is important to provide spaces to encourage face to face and often spontaneous interaction.
In realising this ambition considerable time was spent working with the client and users for both faculties in developing and rationalising the project briefs. For the Science through the design of more ‘generic’ laboratories with built in flexibility allowing modification of extra ordinary requirements and the rationalisation of the existing timetable allowed multiple users to share space and reduce the project scope and budget substantially.
The School of Medicine was a new Faculty for the university which resultantly had no allotted users. The curriculum had to be developed, rationalised, dissected and interpreted to create a new state of the art facility. Close collaboration and understanding between all parties helped the project exceed beyond its referenced facilities.
In a departure from the existing building which was impervious, lacked orientation within, natural light and appeal to its users. It became important to deliver a light and open environment which stimulated education and research and promoted interaction. The building needed to be easily traversable to students and public which was facilitated by the reintroduction and development of previously under-utilised external public spaces.
2006 Sykes 06 Laminex Institutional Award
2004 Australian Property Institute Award for Environmental Development