IT Research Facility

Location

Clayton, Victoria

Year

2019 – 2020

Services

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

Overview

The IT Research facility is a smart reworking of old that showcases new, cutting-edge virtual reality (VR) technology for students and the broader university community.

The project is part of a large relocation of the Faculty of IT from the Caulfield campus to the Clayton campus, and transforms two disused lecture theatres in the university’s engineering precinct. Merging together, the theatres give rise to a series of spaces designed for purpose-built, 3D motion capture, and relevant support areas. The building now comprises a new dedicated research space, large VR testing zone, and an open plan technical workspace for 15 people.

Bringing visibility to the act of research

The core idea was to create high tech environments to support the faculty’s VR research, in keeping with the ideals expressed in the Monash University Masterplan. We took this a step further, by making the act of research visible through thoughtfully conceived design.

Putting the work on show

Our design punctuates the facade with a series of large, square windows to the north and west that invite passersby to peer into the windows and view the VR zones and research in action, akin to a shop front display.

The fenestrations are strategically placed along a primary circulation path, after analysing the way people move around the site. For example, the west side attracts the most traffic, so the VR spaces were placed on this side. Metal shroud shop front windows signify the new work and facilitate ‘Research on show’, demonstrating strong alignment with the University’s Masterplan.

Integrating the research with the design

Throughout the design, we combined functionality with aesthetics to showcase acts of research. Design strategies included taking elements of what researchers were working with onscreen and incorporating these themes into the colour palettes, accents and finishes.

Environments that enable flexibility

After experimenting with many different design iterations, our response was to design a large virtual reality testing zone to the west of the building. This could be split into four smaller zones, providing the flexibility to create different environments required to conduct a mix of research and data collection.

Celebrating the old alongside the new

As much as this project is about the future, it also pays homage to the past. The brickwork façade was treated carefully and deliberately with a heritage approach, and retained to not only minimise waste, but also to bring a unique design element to the project. This is highlighted by deliberate, staggered brick detail showcasing previous doorways, signifying the past life of the building. Together, the old and new elements create a building that sparks conversations and interest by those who walk by.

Supporting industry leading outcomes

This facility delivers on the university’s vision to be a leader in education and research, and will showcase and support the best and brightest technology minds in Australia.