Learning and Teaching Building, Monash University Clayton by John Wardle Architects

Image: Learning and Teaching Building, Monash University Clayton by John Wardle Architects. Bennetts, Peter. 2018. ArchitectureAU

Located on the Southern side of Monash University sits the newly constructed Learning and Teaching Building (LTB) designed by John Wardle Architects (JWA). The impressive structure which was completed in 2018, ‘forms a gateway’ (Norman Disney & Young, n.d.) to the Clayton campus. It gives a new front door experience for all visitors incoming from the new bus interchange.

Landscape has been a strong theme for the site, hence the spatial and learning experiences of LTB were informed by references to the landscape. The project achieves this with the usage of zinc cladding on the façade, which is acknowledging the stringybark forests and agrarian paddocks. Furthermore, JWA aim to reflect the experience of the landscape and the site’s history inside the building by creating a ‘broad low-rise building’ to form a ‘horizontal field of spaces’ (Morris, 2018).

The JWA team also likens the rough clay brickwork to the raw material of the student cohort, which attains strength through the ‘high firing of tertiary education’. The architects’ usage of materials such as brick and timber on both the building’s exterior and interior extends the notion of blurring the boundaries between the landscape and internal spaces.

The university’s buildings are responsible for 80 per cent of their emissions and to reduce that, this 5-star Green Star building demonstrates Monash’s commitment to sustainability. Materials such as zinc sheets were used as they are easy to recycle. Moreover, some of the key sustainability objectives include ‘Photovoltaics; solar thermal; water conservation strategies and integrating learning opportunities to allow the staff and students to reduce their carbon footprint (Norman Disney & Young, n.d.).

Enclosing the building is a sawtooth roof which allows diverse qualities of natural light to diffuse into all levels of the interior through foyers. In addition, a range of folded light monitors line the edge of the roof, that encompass the top floor and conceal the rooftop plant rooms. To enhance the natural lighting in public spaces, a pattern of rhombus-shaped skylights has been incorporated to unite these zones. The building’s extensive utilisation of daylight from above and the verticality of the project reduces dependence on lifts and encourages physical activity.

Across the four floors, there are 68 formal learning spaces; which sit in groups and are surrounded by informal learning areas throughout the building ‘like neighbourhoods’ (John Wardle Architects, n.d.). The layouts of the formal spaces introduce a new range of learning styles such as; ‘learning in the round’ space and ‘interactive lecture spaces’ using new technology to enhance peer presentation and maximum involvement (Driven x Design, n.d.). Whereas the informal areas have been designed to allow self-configuration by students for group work.

Image: Interior creating its own landscape. Bennetts, Peter. 2018. ArchitectureAU.

The rich interior of this structure achieved the architects’ concept of offering a sense of ‘inhabiting a small city’ within one building. The JWA team applied this configuration to ‘break down the scale’ and create more ‘intimate settings’ for the students. With the experimental internal spaces and usage of materials the LTB is viewed as an aspiring space. The project epitomises the university’s vision of the future; by including advanced technology for new learning facilities while giving sustainability a priority.


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