In a city as architecturally diverse as Melbourne, standing out from the crowd while remaining functional, in context and aesthetically pleasing is a true architectural challenge.
Melbourne’s newly completed RMIT Design Hub is doing just that, however, with the building making waves throughout the design community for its clever and unique façade.
Joining the ranks of the university’s diverse and architecturally impressive buildings, this new 10-storey addition on Swanston street boasts a façade that is peppered with intelligent sand-blasted glass discs.
Architect Sean Godsell explains that the façade’s design goes above and beyond aesthetic means by functioning as a reactive and response shading system. A built-in computer system allows the façade’s discs to open and close according to the time of day and year in response to climate changes. The discs have also been designed in order to be used in association with renewable energy means.
While the architect admits that solar harnessing technologies would have be a popular choice, the design team chose to focus instead on experimenting with new research into renewable energy technologies.
”The problem with solar power is that while the world is embracing it, we’re really embracing technology that has been around for 20 years already,” says Godsell. ”When solar technology has the inevitable breakthroughs it will have over the coming decades, the building is ready to cope with that its shade skin will evolve into an energy-collecting skin.”
The building has earned a five star energy rating.
The $60 million building will house major seminars, conferences and exhibitions, and will serve as a major hub for university members. It includes a lecture theatre, robotics laboratory, digital and traditional exhibition space, working space and a café.
Taking inspiration from the dynamic and open façade, the various spaces inside the building also resonate with the exterior, as each different room or area shares highly visible connections to its surrounding areas.
While this building is impressive as it currently stands, it is the promise of future technologies and features that really solidify it as a clever piece of design. The green building sector is often stunted by ideas that outrun technological development. As Godsell attests, the technologies catch up, and the Design Hub has been designed to be ready for it when that inevitability occurs.