In the centre of Monash University’s Caulfield Campus is building K, a building that currently houses a mix of classrooms and multi-purpose spaces and faces directly onto the Campus Green. With a front row seat to campus life and activity, it’s no surprise that Level 1 (Ground Floor) of the building was chosen by Monash to be transformed into a new campus student hub and co-curricular space where our task has been to develop an architectural design that speaks this vision.

Our proposal is one that delivers on impact whilst understanding the space, its inherited character and unique design opportunities. It achieves this through adhering to a clear design narrative that has been crafted around three key focuses and design aims as summarised below:

Transparency

Stakeholders at Monash were adamant that the new design be as open and inviting as possible with activity across the social spaces made visible throughout. This visibility is an important tenet for ensuring a sense of openness and transparency across the communal spaces and beyond to establish a dialogue between both inside and outside campus activity.

Our design punctures the level 1 facade with new glazing and doors along the walkway to connect it to the outside space and channel as much light as possible into the centre of the building ’s deep floor plate. The use of permeable screening throughout also contributes to greater visibility across the internal spaces such as the games room and events lounge whilst allowing for clear separation of programme.

Relationship

The existing building is a 90s building designed by the Melbourne architectural firm DCM. It has distinct character with a grey tiled exterior, feature red window framing and the firm’s trademark use of yellow in the exterior columns. What ’s missing however is any articulation of this character internally where we felt it was crucial to address this disconnect through the new internal design scheme at level 1. As a mutation of the external within, the new design strongly references the building ’s primary colour palette whilst taking cues from the ‘De Stijl’ design movement to offer a scheme that whilst related to the existing, forms its own interpretation. The use of perforated panelling and orthogonal framing throughout similarly references the building ’s existing materiality and facade composition. Our design intervention also takes into account the recently refurbished level 2 with its bold use of yellows and perforated panelling, both mirrored in level 1.

Dilineation

In order to articulate a clear sense of programme and function amidst the various zones, colour and materials are key in lieu of walls and partitions. In what are predominately large open social spaces, the architecture relies heavily on colours and finishes to delineate space and function. For example, the circulation paths are made yellow, the social spaces are blue and the
games room is red where the end result is a striking and effective indication of pathways and areas. This strategy also ties the design into the scheme incorporated at level 2 where similar colour zoning and delineation has been inherited to tie our design into the building ’s broader design narrative.