Max Pritchard Architects design Australia’s first certified PassivHaus
Australasia’s first certified Passivhaus and two on the way in Melbourne

A team of industry experts is helping design a unique educational space that aims to create an immersive learning experience for students of a new entrepreneurship program introduced by the University of Melbourne.

Led by architects Lovell Chen, the project has contributions from industrial designer Joe Iacono, education designer Peter Jamieson and Australian structural engineer, Phil Gardiner from Irwinconsult.

To be built to German Passivhaus standards, a first for a large educational building in Australia, the Wade Institute will open its doors to students of the inaugural Master of Entrepreneurship class in February 2016. The program is the result of collaboration between the Faculty of Business and Economics, the School of Engineering and Ormond College.

According to Rufus Black, Master of Ormond College, the building design needed to actively encourage experimentation, innovation and unconventional learning to develop Australia’s next generation of businesses and teach the people who will lead them.

Lovell Chen’s Principal Architect, Kai Chen explained that they have provided a foundation for creativity and left students to design their own reality within the space.

Created specifically for the Wade Institute, Iacono’s design enables the space to evolve in alignment with ideas. The flexible space allows students and staff to clip together walls, screens, desks and lights to create anything from an open plan classroom to an office, customer lab or forum to pitch.

The German Passivhaus certification is a rigorous, voluntary standard for energy efficiency. Building to this standard meant the trades working on site had to relearn parts of their craft to create an extremely insulated shell with virtually no penetrations that could act as thermal bridges. The Passivhaus standard also means the Wade Institute will require virtually no artificial heating or cooling and will use a tenth of the energy required by a similar building.

Chen adds that the process continues to be a highly collaborative one, with architects, engineers and builders all unified by a common desire to achieve the certification and create a passive house.