The award winning Griffith University Learning Commons design by ThomsonAdsett architects will be showcased at the inaugural International Library Symposium (IILS) to be held on the Gold Coast in September.

The Commons project was recently named the 2014 Australasia Council of Education Facility Planners International (CEFPI) Overall Winner, and will again be subject to an international audience at the IILS.

Group Director of Education and Design at ThomsonAdsett, Graham Legerton, will host a keynote address at the symposium which will be themed Embracing New Landscapes. The symposium will also include other esteemed commentators like Germaine Greer. 

The firm believes the Commons demonstrates how space can impact learning through the incorporation of key design elements, a subject that Legerton will further discuss at the IILS.

A geometric floor plan and significant pedestrian paths runs throughout the Commons library project which ThomsonAdsett believes creates a platform for a variety of student engagement experiences.

“Various formal and informal spaces enable students to meet, learn, withdraw, share knowledge, take in oxygen, relax, be visible, valued, enjoy serendipitous encounters and access a myriad of support services,” they said.

The Commons design also considers the environment through conservation and the celebration of existing native bush and topography with built form.  For ThomsonAdsett, the design addresses the brief, which prioritised the creation of a social learning external landscape.

“Triangulating new with old results in efficient travel distances, increased collaboration and sustainability benefits with the new building serving as an environmental buffer,” ThomsonAdsett explained.

“Further benefits include conservation of native bush, less disruption to a live and densely occupied area of the campus and greatly enhanced operational efficiencies.”

The building’s ‘Shard’, a massive 300sqm triangular cantilever at the building’s entrance, is a key design element highlighted by the architects.

“The volume under the building’s ‘shard’ provided the perfect setting for a space of a collaborative and experimental nature.

“This naturally lit, ventilated, spacious and quirky zone of the building provides a setting where collaboration can occur in multiple modes.”

Similarly, the building’s 160 metre western fa├žade (above) incorporates a landscaped undercroft and fixed louvre skin to encourage students to embrace the Queensland climate and experience learning outdoors.

A ‘Sky Lounge’ and ‘Aviary Garden’ also feature and continue the theme of enhanced learning experience through key design elements.

ThomsonAdsett suggests that the Commons project is indicative of the wider trend in education internationally where design is increasingly called upon to transform generic teaching and learning experiences into places where collaboration, inspiration and innovation can occur.


The Griffith University Learning Commons by ThomsonAdsett unites the links between neuroscience and architecture, and incorporates behavioural patterns into design.

“Generic teaching and learning spaces become all too readily redundant due to their monotony.” “

Space will impact on learning if it is different, interesting, inspiring and a place that you would want to be in.”

For more library projects see our list of top new libraries for 2014.

Images: Angus Martin