Macquarie Uni’s prefab ‘innovation hub’ named best education building in Australasia

The Macquarie University Incubator by Architectus.

The Macquarie University Incubator by Architectus.

Image: Brett Boardman

A timber, prefabricated “innovation hub” by Architectus has been named the overall winner of an awards program that rewards innovative education design.

The Macquarie University Incubator won the overall prize at the 18th Excellence in Educational Facilities Awards. The awards are organized by the Association for Learning Environments Australasia, which describes itself as the “peak body advocating for innovative learning environments throughout Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.” The organization draws its membership from both education sector and design and architecture.

The Incubator was also the winner in the “New Construction / New Individual Facility over $8 million” category.

The jury said the building, which was completed in 2017 in just five months, “makes innovators want to be there and users want to innovate, linking the mind and spirit through form.

“The layout gives users a place to arrive, think, meet and explore ideas.”

The building features hot desks, digital conferencing facilities and meeting spaces. It is designed to “amplify and imbue deep thinking around innovation, bringing together entrepreneurial spirit, ingenuity, collaboration and support,” according to principal architect Luke Johnson, who spoke to ArchitectureAU about the project in September 2017.

The Macquarie University Incubator by Architectus.

The Macquarie University Incubator by Architectus.

Image: Brett Boardman

The predominantly timber building, which was fabricated off–site and assembled at Macquarie University, includes a ceiling structure made of cross–laminated timber (CLT), large span Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) beams and Glulam V columns. Construction involved Lipman and Strongbuild.

Johnson said the use of a range of engineered timbers allowed the architects to create “a sequence of spaces that are tactile and characteristically warm. And, somewhat unexpectedly, the natural aroma of this timber palette is a pleasure for its users.”

The winners of the 2018 Excellence in Education Facilities Awards are:

New Construction / Entire New Educational Facility


Mernda Central P–12 College – ClarkeHopkinsClarke Architects


Singapore Management University: School of Law – MKPL Architects (Singapore)

New Construction / New Individual Facility over $8 million


Macquarie University Incubator – Architectus


The Science Place, James Cook University – Hassell

Ara Kahukura, Ara Institute of Canterbury– Jasmax (New Zealand)

Bellevue Hill Public School – New Learning Environments and Group GSA

New Construction / New Individual Facility Under $8 million


Champagnat Centre, Marist College – Y2 Architecture


Concordia College Nautilus Centre – Russell and Yelland Architects

Renovation / Modernisation over $2 million


St Monica’s Senior Centre – Baldasso Cortese


Flinders University Student Hub and Plaza – Woods Bagot and Flinders University

Renovation/ Modernisation under $2 million


Seymour College, Yurrebilla Centre – Swanbury Penglase Architects


Frankston Primary School, Early Learning Centre Refurbishment – Chaulk Studio

The Victoire Flexible Learning Centre, FCJ College – No. 42 Architects

An Innovative Education Initiative


Studiofive, The University of Melbourne – PTID


The New Generation Learning Spaces Project, The Anglican Church Grammar School – The Anglican Church Grammar School, Brand and Slater Architects

Landscaping/ Outdoor Learning Area


Quantum Victoria STEM Garden – Ochre Landscape

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