The Australian National University has opened the doors of its new Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS) that is reminiscent of long standing tertiary traditions, while delivering a workspace for academics that is of the highest quality. 

Likened to a ‘Forum in the Park,’ the 11,700sqm building focuses on enhancing the research culture of the RSSS by giving academics a premium space to exchange, generate and apply ideas, theories and empirical data to contemporary social and public policy challenges. 

With ingrained flexibility and technology, a combination of both private and shared offices fosters a community of shared ideas between PhD students. The floorplan encourages collaboration, consolation and camaraderie between students.

ANU RSSS Hassell

Highly acoustic separated offices (to support individual focussed research) for academics, PhD candidates and visitors are expressed across five levels, with communal spaces, tea rooms, auditoriums, and outdoor spaces distributed across the first two floors of the building. 

Hassell Senior Associate, Liam Short, says the floors are vertically connected at the arrival points via a communal stair that promotes connection and interaction between students. 

“The RSSS building stimulates collegiality between its school departments and their ability to collaborate, enhancing the School’s reputation for innovation, excellence and internationally recognised scholarship,” he says. 

“The building embraces long standing traditions of the RSSS whilst satisfying functional requirements, aspirations, technology and flexibility to ensure its internal spaces can adapt to growth and changing demand.”

ANU RSSS Hassell

School Manager, Research School of Social Sciences, ANU, Russell Buzby, says all the department heads within the school have noticed staff, students and visitors attending the campus in-person on a more frequent basis compared to the original building. 

“One of the core guiding design principles was to create a space that people wanted to be in. This has most surely happened in the six months since we have occupied the new building,” he says. 

“The communal areas in the building are slowly (but surely) beginning to be used to foment research collaborations between different departments which has not occurred in decades. Undergrads pack the library and tea room most days, particularly during exams. 

“There is a deep appreciation of the facilities and amenities on offer here, and their exciting potential for us in RSSS.”

Images: Supplied.