Monash University North West Precinct by Jackson Clements Burrows Architects in collaboration with MGS Architects (Masterplan)
Urban Design: National Award
Australian Institute of Architects
Jackson Clements Burrows, in collaboration with MGS Architects (who was responsible for the masterplan of Monash University’s Clayton campus), has conceived and implemented an economical and lively program of interventions that revitalize a group of low-rise 1960s masonry and concrete university buildings. Their concept, which introduces pedestrian walks to new and old spaces and creates entrance “places” with an architectural kit of parts, succeeds on many levels. The old two-storey buildings are skilfully refurbished internally and externally refaced with a colourful language of new plate steel fenestration elements that contrasts with new raw concrete entrance portals and stairs.
This work is not monumental. It is a matter of careful addition and subtraction, what one might call successful architectural surgery. The folded concrete portals bring a larger scale to the existing low-rise buildings. They create protected entrances and stepped platforms, which provide successful places for students to gather. Laneways have steel portals in conversation with the larger concrete portals, but these are more about transition – moving spaces, not lingering and meeting places. A large aperture cut in at ground level opens one of the buildings to an intimate courtyard garden between. The architects have lined this “tunnel” with continuously varying red-glazed frames, creating a rich connection.
Deep black shadow angles at intersections of old and new show the architects’ attention to detail and the delicate circumstance of creating “new” within the “old.” These works are about urban renewal. The architects’ design strategy can be used at any level of urbanism and in this context, they have brought new energy and focus to a previously lifeless precinct.