Krause Emperor bricks from Robertson's Building Products Pty Ltd were specifically selected for the roof and walls in a challenging application on Wesley College campus in Glen Waverley.
The Drennen Centre is Wesley College’s new multi-storey student centre, conceptualised by Cox Architecture as a centralised learning space replacing classrooms and school spaces lost to a devastating fire in 2016.
Working closely with the school, Cox Architecture’s innovative and thoughtful design has realised a building that is more than just a student centre. It’s the campus focal point, and a thoroughly modern and flexible learning space incorporating cutting-edge technology to align with contemporary ways of learning and teaching.
The centre includes a whole of campus library, dedicated Year 9 precinct, collaborative learning hub supporting flexible learning, a STEM and design technology hub, specialist language classrooms and a chapel.
Cox Architecture’s design consolidates each element into a cohesive yet distinct building, seamlessly integrating into the existing campus movement patterns and predominantly masonry palette.
The most aesthetically striking element in the development is the chapel. Designed as the spiritual heart of the campus, the chapel is a long-awaited inclusion, proposed since the College’s inception in the 1960s.
Both the design and build presented challenges, mostly in bringing to life the complex brick detailing of the brick veneer walls, and the sheer technicalities of delivering a watertight, brick-clad roof.
Cox Architecture worked with Hutchinson Builders and Lawler Bricklaying on the challenging build, going through several iterations and 1:1 test models before achieving the perfectly watertight brick roof that flows seamlessly from the brick veneer wall construction.
For the team at Cox Architecture, the most satisfying moments in the design are the resolution of the brick detailing, turning from a roof into a wall plane, and the way the brick appears to fold in on itself at the large feature window – to spectacular effect.
Krause Emperor in Ghost colour was the brick of choice, sitting well within the institutional context of grey concrete masonry and aluminium curtain walls, and extending the masonry language with their warmth and tonal variation.
“The Krause Emperor bricks provided the design with a masonry unit that had warmth, and was also quite varied, giving the building texture and life. Its long format was also instrumental in accentuating the horizontality of the building,” comments Daphne Liang, architect, Cox Architecture.
According to Liang, Ghost brick’s subtle pale tones, “sit comfortably alongside the adjacent raw concrete block buildings, providing the right balance of familiarity and warmth”.
Dark metal cladding on the upper levels of the building provides a striking contrast to the pale Krause Emperor bricks, and helps to break down the height of the new three-storey building, aligning it with what is largely a two-storey campus.
The Drennen Centre is indeed a standout development by Cox Architecture and is rightly described by Wesley College as ‘inviting, bright and performing beautifully for the school”.
Photographer: Fiona Storey