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Innovative learning centre Peter Coaldrake Education Precinct created on Australian campus by Wilson Arquitetura

By Courtney Constable


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On the beautiful school campus of Queensland University of Technology, creative architectural teams at Henning Larsen and Wilson Architects have recently completed a beautiful new educational centre called the Peter Coaldrake Education Precinct.

Located in Kelvin Grove, Australia, along the sunny Eastern coast, this new building was conceptualized around and geared towards the idea of social interaction, collaborative work, and its roll in sustainable learning. The building was intended to “breath new life” into a campus that is otherwise primarily inhabited by more traditionally academically modelled spaces.

This six level centre encompasses a total of 11,000 square metres. Those floors are comprised of varying types of classrooms, research spaces, and office facilities. Each of these spatial resources is located atop an high ceiling, airy ground floor atrium that serves as not just a foundation for the building but also a central social hub for the buzzing activities and interactions that surround and run through academic study and school relationships.

The structure itself was built on a decent sized campus plot between the university’s library and the main access street on the QUT campus. This placement was not only convenient for the function of the building itself, but it was also strategic; the offer of an additional social, study, resting, and meeting space along the main strip draws traffic in, particularly given that the building itself is an interesting space even just to look at.

Because the campus was lacking in more open and collaboratively focused spaces that are slightly less traditional, the new space actually provides a slightly more solid focal point than was previously available. Students might find the space more conducive to working and discussing school based topics in thanks to the building’s clear and visual link to and reflection of the latest innovations in sustainability, educational philosophy, and technology.

Even the seating and physical furnishings built inside the building, which determine the way students interact with the space, are more modernized in their layout and make up. They reflect modern office spaces that emphasize brainstorming sessions and open concept workplaces where quiet dialogue and learning from those around you is encouraged. The terraced seating and variance between slightly more private nooks and larger, clearly shareable worktops gives students diverse options.

Another clearly evident option in terms of the building’s interior is the inclusion of and emphasis on plant life. Besides the focus on sustainability, which increased planting clearly ties into, the presents of plant life in this study space was intentional for several other reasons as well. Firstly, it renders the space more inviting, making it a pleasant meeting space no matter the reason. It also follows suit with studies proving that plants and greenery are beneficial for things like anxiety and concentration.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of the space is how it is actually quite customizable for students. Several of the modular styled seating spaces can be moved and adjusted according to how many people are meeting in a party and how they’re like to sit, depending on what they’re doing. Certain study booths are fully equipped with all the screens and jacks students could hope for in sharing information and learning together.

The space even involves a small kitchen area that makes it perfect for lengthy study sessions or breaks between classes. Here, students are welcome to use bar seating, microwaves, and a tap, so long as they keep the space clean and care for it respectfully like a team. The break space constitutes the atrium as a great place during exams, where students need to seek a quiet but conveniently functional place that’s outside their home, which some students find distracting.

Even the facade of the building is very inciting. The exterior is clearly much more modern, contrasting beautifully against the campus’ older and more traditional buildings. The panels on the exterior are built in layers that are self-shading as the sun moves, overlapping to reduce solar heating within the atrium without cutting off the cheerful level of natural sunlight that keeps the inside just as inviting as the outside. Reducing the building’s reliance on energy using heating and cooling systems makes the building just as green in function as it looks thanks to all the live plants throughout.

Another visually interesting and attention grabbing aspect of the building, which is actually visible through the glass in the layers of the building’s exterior, are the various luminous LED spheres hanging throughout the central space. Each of these orbs is five metres in diameter, suspended at varying heights above the floor of the atrium. These add a clear element of technology (and also a pop of colour) to the building and also the focal identity of the campus. They’re a fantastic example of creativity in technology and how the school prioritizes these new blends of skill and knowledge. Photos by Christopher Frederick Jones

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About Courtney Constable

Courtney has over five years experience as a writer, editor and consultant who specializes in architecture and home interiors. She has contributed content to HomeDSGN since 2018 and her work has also appeared on MyDomaine, Archilovers and Apartment Therapy. Learn more about HomeDSGN's Editorial Process.

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