H2o Architects has completely transfigured Deakin University’s KA5 block – that plays host to the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment (SEBE) – to stunning results.
Given a brief that required the transformation of the original Building KA, H2o set about evaluating each area, and to account for a projected growth in staff and Higher Degree by Research (HDR) student numbers. The practice was of the belief that a courtyard that was originally positioned in the centre of the building could be removed, with an emphasis on natural light being able to resonate through the spaces.
A contemporary refresh of the block itself was also high on the list, with new furniture, surfaces and textures a prioritised part of the project. Deakin’s Workplace Principles, that incorporate providing an effective, engaging, and efficient workspace that responds to the different ways people work shaped much of the build, and subsequently guided H2o through much of the design process.
The existing courtyard was infilled over three levels, which account for the projected growth in traffic. The infill doubles as a skylight, that allows natural light to make its way into the corners of the building, as well as providing views of the surrounding greenery. A dramatic central spheroid light well, large glazed sawtooth roof ridges, and voluptuous ceiling valleys break up the rigidity of the interior and draw light deep into the floorplan and lower levels. New contemporary cross-team collaborative and short-term individual spaces create work neighbourhoods that are a clear shift from the former individual office model.
The interiors, highlighted by timber shelving and warm lighting, are still able to maintain a feeling of classic tertiary grandeur, despite their contemporary stylings. The orange, yellow and grey nuances of the furniture, coupled with the various carpet tile patterns that range between tinges of fluoro green, charcoal, lime and black are modernist traits of educational interiors, that ensure a space that looks as if it is one of work, as opposed to a space with leisure in mind.
H2o’s work has effectively given Deakin’s SEBE a new lease on life. Remaining true to educational principles and the sensible, modern attributes of current design features that include natural light and a connection to green spaces, the KA5 building looks ready to move into not only the rest of this decade, but those that succeed it.