Designed by ARM Architecture and Architectus, the University of Melbourne Arts West showcases object-based-learning in a cleverly playful, richly decorative, digitally integrated ‘cabinet of curiosities’.
February 9th, 2017
What is the function of a university campus in an era of online learning? Can design herald change in the philosophies underpinning education without alienating existing staff and students? How can landmark buildings designed to reflect contemporary ideas like hands-on, interactive, object based learning (OBL) adapt easily to accommodate new pedagogies in the future?
Arts West, Melbourne University’s new Faculty of Arts by educational design specialists Architectus and civic and cultural doyens ARM, answers these questions with a cleverly playful, richly decorative, wildly varied, digitally integrated ‘cabinet of curiosities’.
It invites students and staff to discuss, collaborate, recharge, debate and linger well beyond the confines of traditional classrooms and timetables. Amongst its many highlights are a soaring, four-storey atrium with contemporary cloisters at ground level and a spectacular, upholstered central staircase; exuberantly decorated lifts featuring digiglass images of the uni’s architectural icons; and themed student boltholes more at home in hip hotel lounges than universities.
Formal and informal teaching spaces and student lounges are enlivened by vintage wallpapers, ornate curtains, digitally printed carpets and hand painted floor tiles, styled by themes as diverse as vampish, ‘70s Vivienne Westwood tartan to cool grey botanicals. Tactile evidence of the hand-hewn and quirkily curated abounds.
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