Shaw Contract Group conducted interviews with all firms of Global Award winning projects from the 2015 Design Is…Award program. As part of this process, we share a portion of the response on our blog for readers to learn more about the winning projects. These are their stories.
Describe this project in one word.
Design is a process. Explain your journey.
The original site had evolved via the ad-hoc connection of five separate buildings into a 3200 sqm single floor plate spanning an entire city block. The outcome was a large floor plate with very little natural light, disjointed planning and difficult wayfinding.
Our key objective was to enable the planning and design of the college to facilitate a level of interaction within the college community that would lead to a strong and cohesive student cohort. Our journey commenced as a highly collaborative process in which the idea for an internal urban campus was developed to meet Monash’s vision of a design solution that would explore and challenge the preconceptions of traditional tertiary teaching spaces. Our planning strategy which embraced the key principles of Connection, Experience, Diversity, Journey, Engagement and Choice.
Following these key principals, we proceeded to forge cross-campus connections via a primary pathway that connected and linked the entire floorplate.
The result is a unique urban campus that offers a balance of sophistication and fun in a flexible functional environment that complements Monash’s vision of a visionary design solution for the International Bachelor of Business.
How does this project demonstrate how design can impact users in a space?
The brief called for a diverse facility that would allow teaching and learning to occur in an innovative and flexible way, to support a ‘student-centered’ pedagogy of active learning.
A variety of informal & more structured learning spaces were pivotal to a successful design, providing the users choice.
Enabling both independent learning and collaborative group work, both formally and informally to encourage knowledge sharing and spontaneous exchanges.
Bookable ‘formal classroom’ spaces are available in varying sizes, rich in AV and designed to accommodate both collaborative group work & AV centric information delivery modes, including two large 70-80ppl flat floored Lectorial spaces, provide choice and options for lecturers and students alike to choose the right format space for the specific task to be undertaken, be that a lecture, flip-classroom workshop or discussion group.
The final result provides the following;
- Space planning with a hierarchy of ‘campus’ connections to form the basis of a collegiate cohort.
- A spatial solution informed by the urban context, providing an aspirational ‘inner-city’ experience, enhanced by planning that encourages ‘travel’ and spontaneous interaction.
- A vibrant environment conducive to networking that encourages peer to peer interaction
- Classrooms, each with a unique identity, that can be easily reconfigured to suit different teaching styles and disciplines
- A variety of convivial communal and individual break out spaces, providing choice and opportunity to study or socialise between classes, promoting a ‘sticky’ campus.
- An easy interface between the teachers and students to encourage discussion and interaction.
We searched for a flooring product that could work harmoniously with both the planning and the design requirement for diverse spaces, each possessing a unique identity across a wide spectrum, from subtle sophistication to stimulating and vibrant.
The interlocking and non-linear nature of the Hexagon range was ideal, for a number of reasons, including;
- to control the flow and pattern of the carpet and colour in any direction, particularly important in reinforcing the circulation and connectivity of the meandering primary pathway.
- playing with pattern and colour allowed us to blur the thresholds between spaces, which reinforced their flexible and free flowing nature.
- designed layout so colour ‘flowed’ across room thresholds and into the primary pathway; this identified rooms from a distance and assisted in intuitive wayfinding
- Each learning space was prescribed a distinct colour, as part of the desire for theses spaces to feel different. The choice of different tones of the same colour, allowed us to colour-block rooms and create an intensity at the centre of the room that dissipated towards the rooms perimeter.
The Hexagon carpet tile significantly contributed to this project’s success outcome by supporting a strong design concept through the product’s innovative form and unparalleled flexibility.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned through this project that you’d want to share with the designers of tomorrow?
In a fast paced, accelerated programme project where the client brief is not fully developed, it is critical to produce a return brief for client sign off to capture and describe your best understanding of the clients aspirations, and in doing so become a valuable brief development tool & tracker.