Glasshouse Teaching Hub

Location

Epping, Victoria

Year

2021 – 2022

Services

Architecture
Interior Design
Workplace Strategy and Design
Design team management

An educational facility design featuring a building made of black and white panels.

Overview

Developed on a vacant site, deep within Melbourne Polytechnic’s Epping Campus, the new Glasshouse facility was conceived to demonstrate a commitment to the growth of Victoria’s Food and Fibre Industry.

The objective was to provide a state-of-the-art facility that would respond to the needs, priorities and innovations within the sector, combining theory-based classroom learning with hands-on experience to facilitate a training and education centre that will enable the up-skilling of a future focussed workforce in aquaponics, hydroponics and modern agricultural practices.

Enhancing campus connection

We challenged the brief from the outset. Working in collaboration with Lloyd Group, we inverted the concept plan provided, relocating the larger Glasshouse volume to the rear of the facility and positioning the education centre to face inwards towards the campus heart. This allowed us to establish a greater connection between the facility and the rest of the precinct.

Supporting Melbourne Polytechnic’s pedagogy

Key to the design was understanding Melbourne Polytechnic’s teaching and learning philosophy that proffers the development of skills through practice and practical industry experience. This pedagogical approach is reflected through the architecture which links the Glasshouse and Classrooms via a long internal corridor and central entrance, providing a palpable visual connection between the spaces. The two are similarly linked by their roof and ceiling forms where the classrooms celebrate the portal frame architecture of the Glasshouse.

A man walking through a modern office building, surrounded by glass walls.

Complementing campus character

Having worked with Melbourne Polytechnic to deliver the adjacent Green Skills Centre we were mindful of the existing building context and subsequently used a subdued natural colour palette inside and out to create a broader connection to these facilities.

Delivering to a tight program

The project program was truncated, requiring us to collaborate closely with Lloyd Group to ensure delivery milestones would be met. The simplicity of our striking architectural design meant we could accommodate the compressed program by simplifying materiality and ensuring appropriate lead times, as well as enabling a staged approach to building permit approvals.

Separate yet symbiotic

Whilst the form and floor plan of the facility serves to connect the two learning environments, the selection of materials throughout distinguishes the spaces as separate yet symbiotic learning environments. The transparency of the Glasshouse is juxtaposed with the robustness of the colorbond metal cladding of the classrooms where internally, the selective use of plywood in the classrooms is key to softening this exterior. Through this, the architecture maintains a strong presence whilst still sitting comfortably within its precinct environment.

A spacious room filled with tables and chairs, providing ample seating for gatherings or meetings.

Achieving a balanced design

The design has been balanced against Melbourne Polytechnic’s educational ideology, achieving an innovative technical learning environment that balances form, material and function for a compelling outcome.

Exterior of an educational facility design showcasing a spacious glass wall.