This experimental project slated for Melbourne will inhabit the former site of the royal women’s hospital and be adjacent to the University of Melbourne along the edge of the city’s central business district. Five connecting buildings will be realised along the circular perimeter of a central public outdoor garden, dubbed “the Oculus,” which will anchor the entire location. This project will be a part of one district that is part of a long-term, statewide initiative aimed at boosting the area’s economy.
The new buildings will accommodate more than 500 academic staff and 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, some unique features include a fabrication laboratory, shops, cafes, a childcare center, and a “super floor” which will be dedicated exchanging ideas and hosting events. It will also include science gallery Melbourne, an exhibition, and gallery space specifically aimed at 15-to-25-year-olds to explore the confluence of art and science.
The street-facing exteriors of the buildings will include a glazed façade with varying patterns. The Swanston street façade features a repeated, triangular form for each panel, with adjustable coloured opaque pieces to control 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, its palette and use of colour is consistent and inspired by the central garden, using a series of red, ochre, and terracotta-hued bricks.
Its interiors will be swathed in shades of green and blues to directly contrast the outside—furthering designating the spaces and its 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 devisable seminar rooms, centrally located amenities, and several meeting spaces divide large, organically shaped interiors. Wayfinding will be enhanced with programmable luminaires and interior landscaping. The “super floor” will receive special programming that includes a “conversation mound,” or a series of elevated stair groupings where presentations to large audiences that will be marked by contoured timber.