A vacant green field on Melbourne Polytechnic’s Epping Campus is now the scene of a new Glasshouse facility – designed by DS Architects – that allows the institution to support the growth of Victoria’s food and fibre industry.
The Glasshouse looks to intersect theory-based classroom learning with the practical experiences required to seamlessly enter the workforce of aquaponics, hydroponics and modern agricultural practices.
DS’ design seeks to challenge the brief, inverting the concept plan of the facility. The practice decided to relocate the Glasshouse to the rear, with the education centre facing towards the rest of the campus, in order to ensure it remained connected to other buildings, as opposed to isolated. The building engages directly with its adjacent context.
DS worked to gain a strong understanding of the teaching and learning philosophies of the institution, which ultimately informed the design. An internal corridor and entryway marries the Glasshouse and the Classrooms with one another, to signify that both are equally important to the learning experience.
The materials of each space juxtapose one another, with the transparent nature of the Glasshouse contrasted against the colorbond metal cladding of the classrooms, which feature plywood throughout. DS’ experience working with Polytechnic to deliver the Green Skills Centre ensured the practice was well aware of colour constraints, with a subdued natural palette adopted for the interior and exterior of the structure to better connect with neighbouring facilities.
Intersecting design expertise with educational ideology, the Melbourne Polytechnic Glasshouse encapsulates both theoretical and practical learning under the one roof. The clear differences in form and function creates an innovative environment which is an impetus for learning.