Preliminary works are underway on a HASSELL-designed building set to transform the University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus.

The building will bring together three faculties within the biosciences curriculum – Veterinary and Agricultural Science; Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences; and Science – with an “active, flexible learning environment perfectly suited to the biosciences”.

Housed within a green glass façade, the Western Edge Biosciences building will incorporate a series of “wet and dry teaching labs, a large object-based learning space and many other formal and informal learning areas – all joined to together in one cohesive precinct”.

A “symbolically-rich” façade design was inspired by the purpose of the building itself. The exterior is punctuated by a series of “coloured and textured sunshades that convey the purpose of the precinct” and which contribute to the “nature-based” interior.

This symbolism continues throughout the interior, with timber-lined walls and a sweeping timber staircase to connect a series of informal learning areas. HASSELL’s floorplan for the project enables multiple classes and several classes to run simultaneously within the same area.

Complementary landscape design focuses on the restoration of the university’s “lost history”. Circular geometry referenced in the grounds around the Western Edge Biosciences building recalls the campus’ historic System Garden, a “culturally and scientifically important landscape dating back to the university’s founding in 1856”. The project will also see a revitalisation of the nearby Tin Alley / Royal Parade corner of the campus, which will act as an extension of the building’s ground-floor collaborative spaces.

Kane Constructions has begun preliminary works on the site, including the demolition of the current Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences Building. Construction on the new build is expected to begin as soon as October this year, with completion anticipated for 2018.