Melbourne School of Design

The University of Melbourne’s new Faculty of Architecture, Building & Planning embraces the emerging notion that the Studio is not only a room or a space, but a way of learning that favors the acts of doing, making and problem solving in a critical yet collaborative environment.  In this definition the entire building has become the studio, incorporating two lecture theatres, workshop, library, two exhibition spaces, café, a series of studios and associated academic and professional workspaces with the Studio Hall.

The Studio Hall is a large flexible space that provides for informal occupation over all times of the day. The Studio Hall is enclosed above by a continuous coffered timber roof that suspends the visiting critics’ studio. The hanging studio transforms as it distances itself from the ceiling and creates an intimate gathering zone beneath it while maintaining the continuous plane of the Studio Hall floor.

The new building continues the sequence of outdoor rooms arrayed across the campus, and forges strong links to the circulation routes that surround the site. Internally, the circulation occurs through a unique set of condensed stairs that allows the user to choose alternate routes through a Piranesian lacing of pathways and unusually wide corridors that provide workspaces and the opportunity for exposure to other students’ work-- allowing the activities of cellular spaces to leak into the hallways and spread cross the atrium floor.

From the ceiling mediating passive daylighting and assisting natural ventilation-- to a facade system with distinctive solar responses, the new building incorporates and combines a number of innovative structural, electrical and climate systems with a high performance envelope, contributing to achieving the 6 star Green Star rating, an Australian equivalent of LEED.

Photographs by John Horner