Traditionally, architecture for educational facilities – like that of other functional, public buildings – has been austere and institutional.
While there are examples of aesthetically stunning educational institutions such as Eton in the United Kingdom, the majority of these aesthetically-pleasing schools and universities have incredibly high tuition fees and are highly selective in their intake.
The majority of learning institutions of old were unwelcoming, colourless and incredibly stark.
Now, however, modern architects are asking the question: how does that relate at all to modern education-based design?
Fortunately, there does not appear to be any real reason for austerity in educational facilities, which allows for a welcome change to a city’s built aesthetic.
Brookfield Multiplex has just completed the development of the $200 million Academic Building at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University (RMIT) on the corner of Swanston and A’Beckett Streets in the city’s CBD.
Designed by architectural firm Lyons, the 11-storey building, which spans 34,350 square metres, has been designed as a community hub and formal learning space that exemplifies modern learning in a metropolitan environment.
“The Swanston Academic Building has been designed by Lyons to connect to the city with ‘a sense of openness, transparency and energy,’” says RMIT alumnus and Lyons director Adrian Stanic.
Aesthetically, the building features some truly striking elements. From its subtly-coloured, textured façade to its geometrically bold interior sculptural mouldings, the building offers to stand as a complete contradiction to institutional learning, instead offering a space that is invigorating and inspiring and that fits in neatly with the surrounding urban aesthetic.
“In this way we have created a design that not only places the building at the very heart of Melbourne architecturally, but also reflects and embraces the broader architectural legacy of the city,” says Stanic.
However, the building is more than just a pretty face. It boasts a number of ESD features including a power linkage to the university’s central system plant, which is expected to strongly reduce energy consumption; solar panels; rainwater and greywater tanks; double glazing; an intelligent façade and passive window shading; natural ventilation and energy efficient user activated air conditioning and lighting systems.
These features have resulted in the building’s first class certification as a 5 Star Green Star – Education Design v1 rated building by the Green Building Council of Australia.
Developing educational architecture of this nature is a legacy the developers will continue to pursue and promote due to its relevance in modern society and the positive results it garners.
“The education sector has been active for us nationally and we are very excited about the role we can play in shaping education projects,” says Brookfield Multiplex regional managing director of Victoria, Graham Milford-Cottam.
Education design is evolving to cater to a much larger group of individuals under the strong guidance of industry leadership and through information regarding what truly effective learning facility design requires. To create educated people who are creative, bold and cutting edge, it stands to reason that the buildings they learn in should also exemplify these qualities.