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Innovation hub for Melbourne boosting the city’s economy and spurring collaboration
Inhabiting the former site of the Royal Women’s Hospital and adjacent to the University of Melbourne along the edge of the city’s central business district, Melbourne Connect is an experimental project and a community of researchers, industry, startups, SMEs, government, students, artists and Science Gallery Melbourne. Five connecting buildings are arranged around a central public outdoor garden called Womin-djerring (“come together”) which anchors the entire precinct. The project is part of a long-term, statewide initiative aimed at boosting the area’s economy.
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People, projects, and possibilities are what make Melbourne’s newest innovation precinct the place to be for ideas, connection and collaboration. Melbourne Connect is an epicentre of knowledge, research, experimentation and innovation.
The buildings accommodate more than 500 academic staff and post graduate students, researchers, businesses, and start-ups to collaborate on new ideas with hopes of eventually bringing them to market. In addition to commercial and co-working spaces, unique features include a fabrication laboratory, shops, cafes, a childcare centre, and a “super floor” connecting the buildings at level one which hosts the exchange of ideas and events. At ground level, Science Gallery Melbourne is an exhibition and gallery space specifically aimed at 15-to-25-year-olds to explore the confluence of art and science.
Expressive of the sustainability aspirations of the precinct, and the research being undertaken within, the façade strategy is a performance driven energy efficient responsive solution. Glazed façades with varying patterns address the streets. The Swanston Street façade features a repeated, triangular form for each panel, with adjustable coloured opaque pieces controlling the amount of sunlight that shines through. Two buildings face Cardigan Street, one of which displays rectangular panels with neutral hues to cover the windows, while the other is scaled back and projects a subtle face. While the arrangement of these elements is mixed, the palette and use of colour are consistent and inspired by the central garden, using a series of red, ochre, and terracotta-hued bricks.
Interiors are swathed in shades of green and blues to directly contrast with the outside and designate the spaces and programs. Employing colour in this way also communicates the different modes of each area, such as quiet and formal to informal and active. To yield flexibility between the large open spaces, three divisable seminar rooms, centrally located amenities, and several meeting spaces divide the vast, organically shaped interiors. Wayfinding is enhanced with programmable luminaires and interior landscaping.
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