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Edith Cowan University Lecture Theatre, Perth, Australia

Thursday 26 Feb 2009

A building that performs

copyright: Woodhead 
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Edith Cowan University is given new lecture theatre 

With this building typology, it was essential to design it from the inside out to ensure that the two critical elements, the resolution of the space planning and the acoustic performance of the space, were executed successfully. In developing the building plan, detailed studies were undertaken in comparing rectangular and concentric layouts and aspects such as flat, raised and tiered seating. Each option was developed with a uniform row depth and seat spacing.

Further investigations were undertaken to establish the spatial implications of bench seating vs seats with tablet arms and fixed vs loose seating. The studies clearly established that the most efficient space utilisation was for a concentric plan, with fixed seats with tablet arms. This arrangement minimised the distance between the audience and speaker, and when applied to the tiered seating achieved the optimum viewing configuration.

The distinctive shape of the building was derived from detailed studies into acoustics. The internal space of the lecture theatre was sculpted to optimise natural voice amplification, to clearly resonate outwards from the lecturer into the theatre.

The theatre space was the catalyst for the project and as such, it is the heart of the building. The remaining spaces including the foyer, control rooms and toilets all plug into the perimeter. Spaces that were unused during normal University hours, such as store rooms etc, were located around the perimeter of the Lecture Theatre. This provided a physical buffer and improved the acoustic separation between the foyer and Lecture Theatre.

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