Science Precinct

Location

Burwood, Victoria

Year

2017 – 2019

Services

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

Overview

In response to a growing demand for science learning, Deakin University initiated the Science Precinct project to develop a series of new ‘mega laboratories’ to support their growing science enrolments and launch their science faculty into the future.

Once the nominated site, an existing three-storey public works building, was deemed unsuitable to accommodate the innovation required to deliver the curriculum, we needed to reframe the brief. Our solution was to look beyond the existing building, and enclose the open courtyard next door, replacing it with a large, internal atrium connected to three adjoining buildings.

Maximising space for teaching and learning

By shifting the existing building’s circulation across to the atrium, we were able to gut and rework the interior of the old public works building to create seven high capacity teaching laboratories that can comfortably hold large groups of up to 80 students.

Creating specialist laboratory environments

The project comprises Chemistry, Physiology, Biology, general Science, PC2 Labs, associated prep rooms, and laboratory staff accommodation over 3 levels.

Our extensive understanding of laboratory environments enabled our team to design spaces that considered the compliance and safety elements of the lab alongside the teaching requirements. This included managing the scale of the teaching spaces via integrated AV, acoustic treatments and direct sightlines throughout to support curriculum delivery and encourage collaboration.

A place of contrast and drama

In stark contrast to the solidly built unremarkable buildings on either side, the new atrium is generous, light-filled and welcoming with a soaring glass roof that faces the sky. Creating volume and drama, the roof is pitched with a contemporary design featuring timber fins.

Navigating complexity

A rigorous design approach, combined with strong technical capabilities enabled our team to navigate project challenges. The addition of the atrium in itself resulted in a more complex construction process, requiring careful consultation with the building surveyor and fire engineer for compliance, and with Deakin to formulate a staging plan that would minimise disruptions and allow classes to continue.

Inventive and joyful design solutions

The Deakin Science Precinct project demonstrates how a deeply practical and technical brief can still deliver a joyful solution, celebrating architecture for students of the future to enjoy.