Denton Corker Marshall completes Biomedical building for Monash uni

Denton Corker Marshall has completed Australia’s largest biomedical teaching facility at Monash University in Melbourne.

The 11,360-square-metre Biomedical Learning and Teaching Building (BLTB) is located on the western edge of the university’s Clayton campus. The building can accommodate more than 1,800 students and teachers in facilities that include four “superlabs” – large-scale spaces used for teaching and research that are intended to facilitate collaboration and the free exchange of ideas.

In an architects’ statement, DCM design director Adrian FitzGerald noted that superlabs were adopted by research and higher education institutions more than a decade ago and offer efficiency through scale. They have a number of shortcomings, however, which can negatively impede learning outcomes.

Biomedical Learning and Teaching Building by Denton Corker Marshall.

Biomedical Learning and Teaching Building by Denton Corker Marshall.

Image: Tim Griffith

These can include “excessively large, long, linear facilities, with the number of repetitive lab benches creating the feeling of being in a ‘science factory’,” a lack of “adjacent supporting teaching spaces and/or informal learning spaces,” as well as poor acoustics and natural light access.

The architects said that the design of superlabs in the BLTB attempts to address these issues. “Rather than a linear arrangement, the flexi-superlab is configured as a square space of 30 by 27 metres. A glazed satellite preparation hub is located in the centre of the square, creating two interlocked L-shaped labs wrapped around it. The labs are separated by full height glass sliding walls. When open, one lecturer can run a session for 240 students, when closed two parallel classes can operate for 120 each.”

Biomedical Learning and Teaching Building by Denton Corker Marshall.

Biomedical Learning and Teaching Building by Denton Corker Marshall.

Image: Tim Griffith

The building also includes 500 informal seats for learning and 200 flexible teaching seats, in response to a “pedagogical shift towards collaboration and informal learning that is increasingly characterising teaching in the sciences,” the architects said.

“All of this is encapsulated within a bold architectural addition to the campus. The efficient ‘flexi-superlabs’ are book-ended by highly expressive cubic volumes and service pods.

“These are clad in fritted glass and perforated aluminium, with patterns derived from macro-scaled biomedical systems. [They] convey the activities within, and generate a distinctive identity for the School of Biomedical Sciences on campus.”

Monash engaged DCM to design the building in 2016, with a brief calling for a “campus marker” that would activate and connect the building with its community, while also sitting within and complement the established campus.

The architects said in 2018 that the design “respects the modernist, uncluttered traditions of the original campus masterplan. It is designed to be a highly flexible form, accommodating future changes in pedagogies. It does this by maintaining the orthogonal campus arrangement [and] adopting a rational, linear arrangement derived from internal function.”

Related topics

More news

See all
251 Wickham Street by Bureau Proberts. ‘A new type of office building’ for Brisbane's Fortitude Valley

Bureau Proberts’s design for a 28-storey Brisbane tower is intended to provide a “striking alternative” to the surrounding commercial buildings of the CBD and the …

Perth Concert Hall by Howlett and Bailey Architects. ‘Beautifully poured’ brutalist Perth concert hall to be redeveloped

The Western Australian government has pledged $30 million to redevelop the brutalist Perth Concert Hall.

South West TAFE Warrnambool learning and library hub, designed by Kosloff Architecture. ‘An iconic building’ proposed for regional Victorian town

Kosloff Architecture has designed multi-storey, highly transparent learning facility for the south-west Victorian town of Warrnambool.

A grand stair inside 5 Parramatta Square by Manuelle Gautrand Architecture with  Designinc and Lacoste and Stevenson. New vision of Parramatta Square civic hub

5 Parramatta is designed by French practice Manuelle Gautrand Architecture with Designinc and Lacoste and Stevenson

Most read

Latest on site