Educational projects are typically a challenging blend of intellectual optimism, functional necessity and anorexic budgets, which for most architects are usually very positive experiences conveying potential for full exploration of design opportunities and empowering democratic discourse. The Cradle Coast Campus project for the University of Tasmania continues Architects Designhauss exploration of contemporary educational spaces, developed from our earlier work for the University of Tasmania.
Uniquely, the Cradle Coast Campus project was briefed as a mix of traditional lecture/seminar spaces, campus administration, learning hub, offices, wellness centre and café rolled into a single regional campus building.
Our early recognition that contemporary flexible learning processes and spaces are augmented by the advent of communication strategies such as podcasting, teleconference lecturing and wireless connectivity assisted us to create flexible physical planning and services distribution.
We were, however, searching for some defining character for this campus, which had experienced high growth patterns for both undergraduate and postgraduate research. Typically this somewhat sleepy regional campus was in need of a boost of testosterone, bringing it in line with contemporary educational spaces, style and usage. In the process we hoped to create a new image for the campus, setting it on a course of renewed development. We strove through this building to define educational connectivity to the global learning paradigm by imbuing it with a contemporary edge and sense of spaciousness.
The briefing process for the building involved a high degree of consultation and the democratic involvement of academic staff, students, administrative staff and university project managers with sign-off at each major project milestone.
High on the list of desirables was the incorporation of sustainable design principles and the energy management of the site from a remote multi campus control centre a feature of the University of Tasmanias asset management strategy. The design of this building features reduction of mechanical heating, cooling and ventilation through the incorporation of a naturally ventilated atrium space, which includes damper controlled roof ventilators linked to an off-site Building Management System (BMS). Coupled with ceiling and wall-mounted radiant and convection heating and auto-controlled external window systems, temperatures are maintained to a comfortable 24 degrees with a plus or minus two-degree variation. Low VOC and recyclable products have been used throughout the project.
Conceptually, both externally and internally the buildings orthogonal form is fragmented by subtle variations in material texture and colour red being the University of Tasmanias corporate colour.
The entry façade deliberately seats a solid upper storey mass over a transparent under storey, while the entry canopy represents a play on the graphic bar and peak line found in scientific instrumentation read-outs.