Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Woods Bagot and the landscape architects at Aspect Studios have completed a university building for Deakin Law School in Melbourne comprising a zinc-clad volume and a fluted concrete tower creating a beacon and gateway to the Elgar Road Precinct the building provides a point of orientation, wayfinding, and enhanced campus experience.
The Deakin Law School Building’s arresting geometry arose from the innovative blend of learning spaces held within. Each space addresses a different emerging methodology of teaching, doing away with the traditional lecture theatre in the process.
Deakin Law School Building has recently been awarded a 2022 International Architecture Awards Honorable Mention by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.
The building delivers five levels of flexible, media-rich learning spaces that cut across the continuum of formality and informality, with students able to move seamlessly between modes of learning.
Technology bars, group pods, and individual spaces create opportunities for connection, collaboration, or private study.
Two levels are dedicated entirely to student support and health and well-being services, with spaces allocated for student retreats and contemplation on campus.
The Wellness Garden, nestled between the building and Gardeners Creek Reserve, features native plants, stones, a deconstructed creek, and tiered seating. While the winter garden on level five provides a space high above the trees, with a vertical plant wall and floor-to-ceiling glass louvers.
Three larger experimental Premier Learning Spaces challenge conventional learning typologies – a large, tiered presentation space is designed to serve as a collaborative space when not in presentation mode; large group working spaces can operate as informal learning spaces when not timetabled.
Set apart from this main rectilinear teaching wing and in an orchestrated contrast of masses, the Premier Learning Space is clad in zinc and articulated as curved organic extrusions.
Each response to the site’s sloping landscape moves students energetically through the space and spirals upward to frame a different view of the precinct.
Sitting on the Northwest edge of the university’s Burwood Campus, the law school site was largely disassociated from much of the campus due to the waterway that schisms the campus in two.
A new link bridge completed during the Law Building’s construction sought to provide a connection back to the Elgar Road Precinct.
With an understanding of the proposed bridge design, Woods Bagot this constraint as an opportunity for the building to form a mediation role within the campus, an organizational framework for the public realm, and the existing campus infrastructure.
The building’s striking form and glinting materiality serve as a form of wayfinding, ushering students across the link bridge and creating a campus traversability that had never existed before.
The first large general-purpose learning and teaching space added to the campus in a decade, Woods Bagot has created a learning landmark that embodies the university’s commitment to evolving pedagogies.
A campus catalyst and arresting arrival point within the university’s Elgar Road Precinct, the building’s impact extends well beyond its perimeter.
Project: Deakin Law School Building
Architects: Woods Bagot
Principal In Charge: Sarah Ball
Design Principal: Bruno Mendes
Design Leader: Jordon Saunders
Project Architect: Brad Holt
Design Team Members: Bolun Chen, Clare Debney, Matt Si, David Ley, Fernanda Eusebio, Stuart Patterson, Jo Dane, Albert Fravel, Caitlin Murray, and Kenneth Chou
Landscape Architects: Aspect Studios
General Contractor: BESIX Watpac
Client: Deakin University
Photographers: Peter Bennetts