Melbourne School of Design

The Melbourne University project is the result of an international competition, organized in 2009. The focus of the competition, beyond housing the new facilities of the Melbourne University architecture department –and its related disciplines—was to rethink the entire challenge of architectural education to give priority to four themes: the ‘academic environment’, the ‘suspended studio’, the ‘living building’, and ‘built pedagogy’, all themes that cover certain urgencies of this time, while projecting forward various ambitions for the future.

In offering these four themes, the competition foresaw some critical changes in architectural education that are the result of inter-disciplinary work, and how spaces of pedagogy can react to and accommodate a platform for various fields to come together and form something larger than the sum of their parts. The competition also acknowledged that with the rapid rise of new technologies and online education, that spatial needs need to be redefined not only to optimize personal spaces, but also collective spaces of interaction, shared media and interactive technologies.

Further to this, in a time of both economic crisis and ecological vulnerability, the building would need to address the use of resources, challenging conventional means and methods of project delivery, while also projecting forth an understanding of the life cycle implications of such a venture. Finally, the project is also to serve as a pedagogical model, not only offering new and innovative spaces for learning, but also as a built artifact, to serve as a pedagogical instrument—to teach by example and radicalize the media with which it is working. The building was completed in 2014.

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