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UQ Opens New School of Architecture

August 26, 2009

Donovan Hill’s renovation introduces open-plan, light-filled studios for architecture students.

The renovated School of Architecture at the University of Queensland, designed by Brisbane-based studio Donovan Hill, opened this week following a $3.2 million redesign.

The renovation of the school, located in the Zelman Cowen Building, opened up the existing studios on all three levels by removing the old partitions. The existing rooftop space on the fourth floor has been enclosed using louvres to create an extra studio, increasing the working areas available to students. Resource areas and kitchens have been included in each studio, and lighting and drafting conditions create a pleasant working environment.

The school features open-plan spaces instead of smaller, more restrictive classrooms, and has been designed to encourage students to work together. Head of School Dr John Macarthur explained, “Architecture is about collaboration. We need spaces where people can work together for long times… we don’t need small spaces for that.”

Dr Macarthur described the spaces as labs, and believes the open floor plan will encourage students to readdress the way they approach their work. “A studio is more like a laboratory for experimenting with ideas than an office where written work is done.”

The building was opened by University of Queensland Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Greenfield AO, and attended by Professor Michael Keniger, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the university.

The new school allows over 100 students to work in the spaces at the same time, with room for drawing plans, making models and completing calculations. Dr Macarthur praised the completed design, explaining that having so much dedicated studio space, “gives [the school] the flexibility to develop design studios around issues in the profession, in research and in relation to real world problems.”

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