UQ Forgan Smith Building – TC Beirne School of Law and Walter Harrison Library Refurbishment by BVN
Educational Architecture: National Award
Australian Institute of Architects
This restrained and refined insertion adopts an imaginative adaptive re-use strategy, significantly reimagining the restrictive cellular planning of the historically significant Forgan Smith Building at the University of Queensland. Sourcing its architectural expression in the traditions and substance of the legal profession, it nevertheless fulfils the spatial requirements of contemporary teaching and research.
A dramatic entry space provides an arrival experience that is also the identifiable “heart” of the school, uniting all three previously disconnected levels. This memorable space reveals movement and promotes active interaction between students, staff and visitors.
Spatial order is informed by three “pillars” – knowledge, learning and inquiry – each with particular colour and detail. Articulation and detail, including decorative motifs, are drawn from the traditions and representations of the campus and the law school. Material selection reinforces this identity, while refurbished silky oak timber doors and frames make tangible the connection to the original fabric, informing the refined sensibility of new material and colour selections.
At the centre of the library is a glowing lantern structure, inspired by and softly illuminating the collection and reading room. The remarkable quality of finishes and furniture enhances the sequential spatial order and combines with the programmatic elements to deliver an exceptional and enriching setting for teaching and research.
For more coverage, read the article by ArchitectureAU editor (acting) Linda Cheng.