The University of Melbourne’s Melbourne School of Design is a truly inspirational teaching space. The interior is refined, but not overly so. The edges and central elements are experimental and unconventional, the sorts of dramatic influences that stimulate and inform learning. The interior evokes the ideal of a canon, yet offers opportunity for propositional and speculative engagement through the pedagogy and creativity that it encourages. In this way it proposes a different type of interior design canon – one that privileges occupation and experience.
The Melbourne School of Design (MSD) for the University of Melbourne creates a new environment for flexible teaching and learning for students, researchers and academic staff. The project is also an educational tool in itself, through the considered use of materials and the transparent overlapping of planning and spatial relationships. A number of themes were identified when the initial concepts for the MSD were developed. One main philosophy was for the building to educate the occupants; to provide a catalyst for learning. This tenet has been welcomed into the interior in subtle and overt ways. A variety of open and semi- enclosed stairs provide a theatrical and ceremonial transition between public spaces. The revealed stair forms are one particularly elegant example of the intention to actively inform the inhabitants. Parametric design was used to model floors and ceilings. The result is the ground-floor arcade, which uses terrazzo pavers in five different colours and sizes to create a subtle field pattern reflecting traffic flow densities.
The Award for Public Design is supported by Laminex. The Australian Interior Design Awards are presented by the Design Institute of Australia, Diversified Communications Australia and Artichoke magazine. For more images of this project, see the Australian Interior Design Awards gallery.
Read Sandra Kaji-O’Grady’s review of Melbourne School of Design by John Wardle Architects and NADAAA.