The new Clinical School is designed as a contemporary medical focused teaching and research environment that is fully integrated with the University of Notre Dame Australia. The building is designed and located to facilitate an ongoing relationship between staff and students from the Clinical School, and staff, students and patients from the nearby Werribee Mercy Hospital.
Regional forces shaped and guided the development of the project. Presented with a green field site with no existing remarkable features or fauna the built form undulates in mimicry of an imagined past topography of land and trees.
Integrated planters follow the built form’s undulations and greater site planting mitigates the long gone local flora. Deep eaves respond to solar orientation and an angled building skirt provides a dynamic plane that moves around the building, shifting to define changes in function.
Cutaways in the external dark timber form expose a light timber core inspired by the construct of a fallen log. The expression of the lighter core flows through to the interior spaces creating a strong material connection between the various zones of the building and in turn linking the inhabitants with the new imagined landscape.
The plan form of the building consists of two wings that are angled to converge on each other and create a series of non-programed internal spaces. These spaces form the central ‘hub’ which facilitates incidental interaction between staff, students and visiting public and acts as a threshold to the teaching, administration, research and consultation suites zones.
The hub expands externally to a large wind sheltered courtyard between the two wings. Sun drenched amphitheatre style seating hosts a variety of informal staff and student activities and presents a visually connected social backdrop to the interior spaces.
The main entrances to the building and the primary public functions are connected directly to the central hub providing it with constant activity and transition. The rest of the building’s functions are organised into four main zones; teaching, office administration, research and consultation suites. The main corridors that lead to these zones radiate off the central hub.
An opportunity was seen in the selection of ‘domestic scale’ materials to allow for decreased lead times and in turn speeding up the project’s procurement time.
The design is responsive to the university’s current and future requirements and the plan and layout allows adaptation to future expansion and flexibility. The decision to lay out the facility over a single storey will allow the university to expand the clinical school more easily in the future.