Monash University identified a need to innovate the way they designed, developed, and tested their multitude of online services, websites, applications, and digital media used by students. What was missing however, was a facility to bring this all together. Based on our experience interpreting complex and innovative briefs we were approached to lead the design team.
Monash University’s requirements for the new facility were diverse and unique:
- The design needed to facilitate two different types of interactions – those between people and those between people and devices.
- The facility needed to support face-to-face discussions, presentations, meetings and workshops
- It needed to operate as an interactive lab for testing of websites, software, and applications across a variety of electronic devices, while also providing facilities for staff to observe and record such testing, and receive feedback from students
- The design needed to convey the innovative ideas being undertaken without intimidating the users.
To meet these requirements, we designed a series of interconnected flexible spaces within an open plan setting. The planning of the facility was important to enable the users to move seamlessly between a larger theatrette, small satellite breakout rooms, open plan computer workstations and project spaces. This easy movement between different scenarios and spaces was essential to maintaining the connection between research and subject as various scenarios were tested and observed.
The theatrette is ringed by raised benches incorporating connections for a variety of electronic devices, tablets, phones and laptops. This allows allowing anyone in the room to connect to the audio visual equipment so that visual content can be swapped and changed fluidly between the presenter and other team members.
Why all the black? We studied Samsung, Apple and Google stores and found them remarkably similar in the use of light colours and natural materials. We were inspired by Apple’s advert ‘Think different – here’s to the crazy ones’ and we developed the idea of flipping that aesthetic by not giving visual priority to electronic screens over handwritten information. Device screens are black; screens convey information; written information is as relevant as digitally drawn information – so every wall in the facility is a ‘black screen’ that can be written or projected on to convey information.