Common ground

James
Friday 04 Mar 2011

A dynamic building emerges from Melbourne’s post -industrial landscape ushering in a new knowledge based economy

As Universities compete to define their standing on the local and international stage, Victoria University in Footscray Victoria resolved to develop the ‘Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living’ as a world leader in the field of Sports Science and Biomechanics. The pursuit of such required a dynamic new building to facilitate, inspire and celebrate both athletes, students and researchers alike.

An opportunity to articulate the function of the building emerged following an exhaustive consultative process with the client. The expansive linear form to the north orients offices and learning spaces for passive solar gain. The zinc cladding is folded to form an integrated sunshading system whilst its colour field pattern emulates an ancient city wall as campus edge. Patterns within the facades references time and motion studies, athletic activity and local history.

The breaks and shifts in the building envelope give pause and moments of relief to the function within and frame significant new campus places.
An external amphitheatre extends toward the sporting oval linking the building to the wider theatre of the sporting contest. Laboratory and research spaces purposefully occupy key parts of the site - denoted within white concrete shells, whilst student life is celebrated on an aerial bridge linking the existing campus to the new building.

An integrated approach to sustainability utilises the existing site fall to incorporate a thermal labyrinth. Void spaces act as thermal chimneys that encourage natural ventilation across office areas to minimise air conditioning at appropriate times of the year. The emergence of a new campus front to proclaim the arrival of a onetime trade school as a serious contender in the high stakes of higher education and as the vanguard of progression in the post industrial heartland of Melbourne has emerged as the compelling and rewarding story of this building.

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