The appliance of Science

Monday 12 Mar 2012

The new Ecosciences Precinct provides a new home for collaborative research

The Ecosciences Precinct brings together 1,000 scientists from four state agencies and six CSIRO divisions into a single, collaborative research environment. The project achieves a significant innovation by creating a new facility 'without walls', encouraging knowledge exchange and discovery through the use of shared spaces and resources.

A highly collaborative multi-agency briefing and design process established clear, well-articulated goals and ambitions. Consultation with high level stakeholders ensured consistent, shared decision-making was carried through all project phases, from the conceptual to the highly detailed resolution of room requirements. The result is unique: scientists collocated by scientific outcome, rather than organisational boundary in flexible, stimulating, light, open and transparent research and interaction spaces.

Three north-orientating wings are linked by an internal multi-level street of social commons and meeting rooms connected by atria, lifts and open staircases to optimise vertical and horizontal connections. This central interaction street encourages vertical movement and the exchange of ideas in the lively hub zones. The three wings are separated by landscaped courtyards, the whole enveloped by a perforated aluminium veil to create monumental outdoor rooms and internal spaces washed by soft filtered light.

The ground floor facilities - conference and education spaces, cafe and library - have access to the courtyards for informal meetings and casual dining. CSIRO's Science Education Centres (CSIROSEC) offer a science education program for primary and secondary school students. Two class groups are accommodated in labs that mimic those for the ‘real' scientists. The south-west courtyard is dedicated to CSIROSEC student activities and experiments. Separate external entry minimises the impact of students in the building foyer while activating the pedestrian streets with youthful exuberance. Most importantly students are exposed to an exciting research work environment encouraging a new generation of scientists.

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