John Wardle Architects creates a new home for mineral and materials teaching and research
The objective of the Mineral and Materials Building and Plasso project was to create a new hub and entry portal to the already substantial scientific research precinct at the University of South Australia’s Mawson Lakes Campus. Two of the university’s preeminent research groups, the Mawson Institute and Ian Walk Institute, came together to formulate a brief for the new building. The project consists of approximate equal parts laboratories, teaching spaces and offices and provides a new address for the University.
Innovative approaches to teaching and learning have been explored in the new building. A theatre-in-the-round at ground level is a collaborative forum for discursive learning, whilst the M2 Studio above is a new home room for the students undertaking the newly established minerals and materials science degree. Using these fields of research as a conceptual basis, two themes emerged at an early stage: ‘stratification’ and ‘cast and mould’. In the design process both were explored throughout planning and modelling as well as in the use of building components.
The project is a dynamic and exciting contribution to the built form of the university campus and the broader Mawson Lakes district, and provides a new and valuable model for future learning, teaching and work environments. The project was designed and constructed within a very tight programme, dictated by a series of federal government funding milestones and the project team worked together in a very collaborative manner in this high pressure, fast tracked construction environment.