Hands-on learning environment for students at ACE
The new Automotive Centre of Excellence (ACE) in Melbourne’s Docklands accommodates a dedicated training and showcase facility for Australia’s automotive trades and manufacturing. It consists of high-bay workshop spaces, specialist workrooms, classrooms and office accommodation.
The project sets a new benchmark for the integration of practical and theory training within a vocational training setting. Students work within a ‘learning by doing’ paradigm, moving between training activities within the open workshop. The only separate training spaces provided are those required to meet specific occupational health and safety needs.
The design of the learning environment works on the idea of ‘simulation’ - simulating an industry workshop, thereby further adding to the students learning pedagogy. A significant number of students also enroll direct from industry on short courses, and the workshop learning environments are set up to meet their needs.
The building also absorbs sources from automotive culture, and its relationships with the city; kerb signs, tyre treads, city overpasses, and the sheen of car showrooms. The interiors evoke something of the automotive predilection for contrasting the technological and mechanical with the finished and the smooth.
The main foyer with its monumental staircase acts as the key circulation pathway through the building. Visitors experience a transition from traditional technical college materiality; raw blockwork, exposed steel and concrete to contemporary applications of carbon fibre and glass projection technology.
The shed facade system incorporates automated louvres which enable the workshop spaces to be naturally ventilated. The offices and classroom spaces are cooled by an active thermal mass system. In combination with other environmental sustainable design features the building has achieved a 5-Star Green Star environmental rating.