Monash University Clayton, Victoria
Site Specific Design Manouvers
This project aimed to design a series of limited, low cost but high-value strategic interventions to an existing, functionally driven School of Biological Sciences building dating from the 1970s. In the end, there were three primary interventions: a new entrance and foyer for the building, a new student space in a disused undercroft, and a new garden deck on the rear of the building near a loading dock.
It was clear from the outset that we would be working with offcuts of secondary, low utility space clinging to the periphery of the unrelentingly linear building. Yet this linearity became a useful datum for our more shaped and organic interventions in and around the existing brown brick and concrete-frame structure. We also saw value in the three ‘off-cuts of space we had to work with.
Entrance Foyer / Tree - A small tree in the vicinity of the new entrance was proposed to be removed to make way for the new entrance however the university accepted our proposal to keep the tree and form the new entry around it. The form of the new entrance became that of a simple, embracing the structure of steel and glass informed by a design proposition; the foyer walls would embrace and protect the tree; the roof would direct rainwater onto a spillway gutter and then to the tree through a fabricated steel spout.
Undercroft / Meeting Room - An under-utilised building undercroft, dark and cluttered, was transformed into a sheltered student space with tables and seating, BBQs, powered workspaces, and bicycle parking. The existing walls and soffit were clad in new skins of aluminum panels designed to reflect light and enliven the gloomy space. What was formerly a tunnel's off-cut space was transformed into a productive, well-utilised student meeting and recreational area.
Timber / Stainless Steel - A new common deck area at the rear of the building area was floated over existing tree root zones with minimal impact. Shaped to weave around an exiting tree, the deck also incorporates outdoor worktables and seating allowing staff and students to recharge devices and meet amid a garden setting. The design of the deck structure incorporated a play between two materials that are not often paired together; hardwood timbers and polished stainless steel plate. The design of the deck became a game between the floating timber platform and the continuous, ribbon-like looping of stainless-steel balustrades, seating tables, and deck fascia.