Big River Group supplied hoop pine plywood for the interiors of the new Learning & Teaching building unveiled recently at Monash University’s Clayton campus.

Designed by John Wardle Architects as a dynamic educational environment, the award-winning facility provides compelling learning experiences that encourage students to stay on campus beyond class times.

The new facility consists of more than sixty formal and informal learning and teaching spaces that are open to all students and staff to further their innovative teaching and learning practices. The four-level building is also home to the Faculty of Education.

The architects took inspiration from the site’s rich natural history to design the learning facility. “Our design process started with understanding the history of the site where native bushland and farmland existed prior to the establishment of Monash University in the 1960s,” says Yee Jien, senior associate at John Wardle Architects. “The new learning space pays homage to the campus’ extensive landscape presence and purposes a new environment of learning.”

Jien chose Big River Group’s hoop pine plywood not only to acknowledge the site’s ecological legacy but also to meet specific sustainability targets. The hoop pine plywood with a custom perforation pattern was specified for the building’s internal finishes thanks to its proven long life, durability, sustainable properties and local availability.

“The project called for a material that was hardwearing and would meet a 5-star Green Star accreditation. We were able to achieve a specific aesthetic while reaching our sustainability targets with Big River’s hoop pine plywood,” says Jien.

Architects favour hoop pine in their designs for its warm blonde varied tones with a clean grain and smooth texture. This plywood is ideal for appearance and structural grade applications in both commercial and residential projects.

Big River Group’s hoop pine plywood has been used for the ceiling in the Learning & Teaching Building. The versatile plywood ceiling enhances the quality of natural light from skylights in the sawtooth roof, while adding depth and texture to the space.

“With daylight spilling in from the plywood ceilings the opportunity for connection with the outdoors is maximised,” says Jien.

The natural modular timber construction for the sawtooth roof overcame the challenges of an accelerated construction programme as the timber structure, roof sheeting and plywood ceiling were all prefabricated off-site and locally sourced.

Overall, twelve sawtooth bays made of Big River Group’s hoop pine plywood, each spanning over twenty metres, were delivered to site ready for installation.

“Although the new learning facility was such an expansive and ambitious project involving multiple stakeholder groups, we are proud to say the project was delivered on time and is sure to enhance the university community as a whole,” Jien concluded.

The state-of-the art structure has been recognised for its outstanding design, with accolades including a 2018 National Award for Educational Architecture, and a National Award for Interior Architecture from the Australian Institute of Architecture.