The eye-catching building at 18 Innovation Walk is the result of a multi-layered process of engagement, discussion and collaboration, much like the layers of the edifice itself. The original 8-storey structure was designed by Stephenson and Turner in 1969, and its aesthetics accurately reflected the trends of that period – modernist and utilitarian.
Kosloff Architecture were initially engaged by Monash University to consider a new future for the brown brick structure, based on the firm’s rich experience working in institutional settings. The project scope was to re-skin the existing building, presenting a new face for 18 Innovation Walk, while retaining the internal structure. An eight-storey face lift!
The architects were excited by the site and potential of a collaborative design process with artist Callum Morton, and Julian Kosloff explained, ‘both architect and artist were committed to the idea that the outcome should be neither Morton, MAP or Kosloff Architecture. That a successful outcome would be something unique and equally shared.’
After initially considering a glass overlay or Pompidou style exposed services, the final design applies a generous new facade or ‘curtain’ to the building, while also offering points of reveal. Old bricks peep through, creating a visual connection between past, present, and future. Yellow and orange bricks line the base and illuminate from below.
The arresting funnel entrance can be read as a laboratory beaker on its side, with the liquid spilling out (the building houses the biology faculty), or a transporting tunnel. The entrance connects the past and present, with a hint of falling through Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole!
Unbelievably, the construction of the new building overlay was achieved without displacing any of the occupants. Important for a biology building, which is home to a menagerie of animals including zebra fish, axolotl, sharks, and mosquitos. (yes, SHARKS!)
Julian explained the positive reactions at the university, and how the building has ‘generated much conversation. Particularly the entry!’ The success of the building has also been recognised at the Australian Institute of Architect Awards, where the project received a commendation in the Education category. It isn’t difficult to see why!
Julian emphasised the role of all the consultants on the project: TSA Project Management, Wood & Greive Engineers, Norman Disney & Young, Arup, Simon Wragg and Associates, PLP Building Surveyors & Consultants, Architecture and Access, Hanson Associates, and Mel Consultants.