The Melbourne School of Design was recently recognised as the best education structure in the world at The Structural Awards 2015. The annual awards program celebrates outstanding achievement in structural engineering. Irwinconsult had delivered structural and civil engineering services for the project following an international design competition in 2009. 

The Melbourne School of Design was one of just fourteen international projects to be honoured by the Institution of Structural Engineers in London. The brief sought to turn the building into a case study, from which students could learn about design, structural engineering and construction.

Irwinconsult worked closely with John Wardle Architects and NADAAA to deliver on the brief, through the expression of several key structural elements within the building. Timber, steel and concrete have been used in the building, with each material demonstrating their structural and material qualities. Design highlights include a unique structural timber roof over the central atrium, from which is suspended a three storey ‘stalactite’ containing a series of studios, a dramatic steel scissor staircase, alongside exposed in-situ concrete beams and post-tensioned slabs that allow the building to achieve significant floor spans and cantilevers.

The awards jury described the design as “a built dictionary of exposed structure”.

Fourteen awards were announced on the night, recognising all aspects of structural engineering, from bridges and stadia to innovative housing and educational buildings. The winners were drawn from nine nations across five continents.

Barry Roben, Lead Structural Engineer on the Melbourne School of Design project said they were honoured to win the Education or Healthcare Award, and hoped that the new building would inspire many generations of students to believe in the possibilities of structural engineering.