2021 Western Australia Architecture Awards: EDUCATIONAL
EZONE UWA | HASSELL
- Conceptual framework
Two key themes drove the EZONE UWA Student Hub design:
– ‘Connection and Exchange’: connecting people, ideas, places, and blurring traditional boundaries that separate disciplines, students, research and industry.
– ‘Inside-Out and Outside-In’: displaying internal learning and activity to the wider community, extending the beauty of the UWA campus landscape deep into building.
- Public/Cultural Benefits
Many separate elements developed under these conceptual themes contribute to the engagement of university and community. Examples include:
– Urban design; using the space between what was originally two separate projects to make a new Western Gateway into the Nedlands Campus, deeply connected into the wider campus master plan
– Transparency; revealing the extraordinary activities within, (eg through two storey shopfronts of technical laboratories onto the public domain) democratising and celebrating deep research and learning
- Landscape; the genuine integration of dappled light and the much loved Nedlands campus soft landscape into the building itself; already having big impact drawing in the wider community
– Integration of Nyoongar design elements in collaboration with Nyoongar elder Dr Richard Walley
The site itself was established following an exhaustive review of the urban realm and Campus master plan, which helped progress issues including:- Careful consideration of scale, proportion and materiality for this very particular site context, directly knitting a repurposed building into the new, blurring boundaries and acknowledging the history of the site.
– Retention of extraordinary existing trees, adding new ones and bringing the landscape up to and inside the building
– Specific design elements, such as the ‘veil’ surrounding the new building which mitigates glare and heat while contributing to a unique design identity linked to one of the ‘100 treasures from UWA’, a six pointed sun symbol (‘flower of life’)
- Program Resolution
The design delivered high functionality on all required spaces for this diverse and technical brief. “Off-brief” enhancements provide the many unanticipated moments of delight and activation for UWA. Examples include;
– Planning: using circulation space as opportunities for informal learning, events and interaction, for example the 24/7 ‘learning stairs’ facing onto the new Western Gateway into the campus
– Shared spaces: social and formal spaces areas located to belong to all, including industry/community spaces such as Business Incubator
– Value: staying within circulation allowances, but making them multi-task, eg vertical circulation becoming learning steps, and verandah space becoming a roofed portal entry to the whole campus
- Integration of Allied Disciplines
The project is a genuine, cross disciplinary collaboration, particularly between landscape and architecture. The expression of engineering is a key theme for the ‘building as a tool for learning’; eg display of and access to plant room spaces, and ‘Digital Twin’ embedded sensors streaming outputs for investigation and research.
- Value and Additional User Benefits
Alongside the achievement of benchmarked costing allowances for this complex, on-budget project, great value lies in the collaborative learning, cultural and activated precinct outcomes for the project
Refer to the sustainability statement, noting building repurposing, orientation, shading, expression of engineering systems and innovations such as PV glass skylighting.”
“The EZONE Student Hub is a much needed centre to the Engineering/Mathematics precinct. A new western-edge campus destination, this transformational learning, teaching and research hub invites the community into the campus, offering glimpses into its academic mechanisms.
Bridges in the repurposed/new building encourage casual meeting, collaboration and socialising. Spaces for under/postgraduate students deliver informal learning, industry drop-in, teaching laboratories and multidisciplinary collaboration in/beyond UWA.
The transparency of the building strongly connects with the beautiful landscape setting. A perfect contemporary learning environment, the high visibility of interior spaces supports a cultural shift in strong contrast to past models of academic learning.”