The George Student Hub

Location

Hawthorn, Victoria

Year

2011 – 2013

Services

Principal Consultant
Architecture
Contract Administration
Interior Design
Workplace Strategy and Design
Landscape design
Design team management

Overview

‘The George’ is a dynamic project that marks a very special point for our practice. It was our first major new building project, repositioning Swinburne University’s main campus into the globally leading, high-performing education institution it is recognised as today.

Replacing an existing building that was inadequate to support the growing campus, the design provides a vibrant education centre that fosters creativity and collaboration.  Our response created a new seven-storey building overlooking the main internal courtyard. It provides more than 3,000 sqm of new floor space for student amenity, with all essential services under one roof.

Designing for impact

Through design, we challenged typical university convention at the time by critically thinking about how to broaden the building’s impact. Our design considers how the University is an integral part of a diverse community with multiple stakeholders.

A diversity of uses and users

The building comprises:

  •  Student services and lounges on Levels 1 and 2
  • Muslim prayer room on Level 3
  • Student health services clinic on Level 4
  • The main university data centre on Level 5; and
  • Office space for the university IT department. across Levels 5 and 6.Applying a clever ‘walk through’ design, the ground floor transforms into a transitional space that is integrated into its surroundings by a mix of pathways for visitors to walk through on their way to somewhere else. This allows for moments of incidental interaction and creates a welcoming sense of identity for the general community.

A design that facilitates connection

As a central hub, the facility sparks unexpected interactions by creating different ways of moving through campus space – a different concept for the education industry at the time.

Activating and uplifting

A bold, sculptural staircase, positioned to the façade and protected by ‘the skirt’, connects Levels 1 to 3. The stair draws the activity of a typically internal space outside, activating the building with people moving up and down throughout the day.

The fourth level features the same red and blue glass perforated panelling as the lower levels, but no skirt, and contrasts with the fifth level, with solid concrete panels. Large windows at the top of the facility service the two-level IT department, subtly screened with horizontal louvres and views onto the courtyard and distant parks.

Shaping a proud identity

Expressing a central focus and branded identity for the University, the building lifted the campus so significantly that it was named the George Swinburne Building in honour of the University’s founder.