MAKE Creative was given the exciting task of developing the new Sydney School of Entrepreneurship (SSE) located on the TAFE Ultimo campus. The SSE is a collaboration between 11 NSW universities and TAFE NSW for students interested in entrepreneurial thinking.
September 25th, 2017
The building, originally a shoe factory, has retained many of its original Art Deco features. The simple design scheme works within the structured shell of the building, inserting simple plywood forms that rework the circular shapes and fluted details of the existing architecture.
MAKE Creative’s challenge was to develop an educational environment that could not only house classes of 25-250 students but also maintain the richness of the building’s history. The company took inspiration from the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship, together with the concept behind D-School in Stanford, USA. MAKE noted the importance of “promoting inclusion, cohesion and interconnectedness through providing a strong and purposeful destination that supported multi-disciplinary activities, collaboration and social activities”.
The location of the two-floor campus building provides a solid grounding for the school and its selection of students, with the positioning within and adjacent to multiple educational precincts and important cultural hubs in Sydney providing a sense of a close-knit, inclusive community. MAKE Creative’s Director Patricia Bondin notes, “Beyond virtual and online platforms, SSE’s physical ‘place’ was required to provide the framework for an interconnected school community for students and members from multiple backgrounds, disciplines, demographics and locations. This ‘placemaking’ was vital to the success of the School and underpinned our approach to the brief and subsequent design solution developed.”
The design approach is a contemporary reworking of the site, employing purposeful and clean inserted elements to define the various areas. The scheme takes its cues from the existing Art Deco detailing of the building – repeated elements in a continuous rhythm, the fluted metal detail between the exterior glazing bays and the original steel framed windows. By making use of the abundant natural light and the openness of the design, MAKE was able to amplify the building’s original design whilst maintaining visibility from one place to another. Bondin notes, “Banquette seating is tucked within the deep window bays, creating small intimate spaces that are an immediate response to the building’s character and provide a natural breakout/seating point. The design has a sense of repetition/continuity over the two levels – on both levels entering the classrooms through an arrival space/entry lounge, before discovering the scale and openness of classrooms beyond.”
The Ground Floor of the building features fixed and loose banquette seating, allowing students to work independently or talk with other students. The space also doubles as an event greet space with a long bar for drinks or food service. Beyond is the first classroom space, filled with Deco-inspired lighting and repeated plywood walls; the space beyond is framed by the large sculptural platform-seating element. It was important to the designers to maintain accents of the original design whilst celebrating the modern. For example, the treatment of the stairs was to leave the original tiled finishes and handrail detailing in place, while new paint applications marry the lobbies on the Ground and First Floor.
The First Floor occupies numerous teaching spaces, a student kitchenette and teaching/meeting spaces and a more intimate seating area. Beyond the teaching spaces are the workplaces occupied by SSE staff. A long, studio-style work area forms the spine of the space, flanked by a timber-fluted kitchenette and ply panelled walls. Bondin notes, “The economy of materials across the project and crisp planning approach, provides for a strong and cohesive design solution for the school, that is not about furniture selection or trend, but a considered and sophisticated treatment of the volumes of the existing building, providing a home for Sydney’s next generation of entrepreneurs.”
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