A password will be e-mailed to you.

Melbourne School Of Design

At the University of Melbourne, a partnership between John wardle architects and NADAAA yields a layered new school rich in ideas and meticulous in detail. The new Melbourne School of Design building has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning to articulate its strategic objectives, demonstrating a commitment to innovation and sustainability through the design and delivery of an outstanding addition to the Parkville campus.

Melbourne-School-Of-Design-By-John-Wardle-Architects-NADAAA-03-John-Horner-759x485 Melbourne School Of Design / John Wardle Architects & NADAAA

© John Horner

“The University of Melbourne’s Melbourne School of Design is a truly inspirational teaching space. The interior is refined, but not overly so. The edges and central elements are experimental and unconventional, the sorts of dramatic influences that stimulate and inform learning. The interior evokes the ideal of a canon, yet offers opportunity for propositional and speculative engagement through the pedagogy and creativity that it encourages. In this way it proposes a different type of interior design canon – one that privileges occupation and experience.” – Australian Interior Design Awards/Jury Citation

Melbourne-School-Of-Design-By-John-Wardle-Architects-NADAAA-04-John-Horner-759x982 Melbourne School Of Design / John Wardle Architects & NADAAA

© John Horner

The new building for the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne will be an innovative and exciting space for future studies. Following a global design competition in 2009, the international architectural team of John Wardle Architects (Melbourne) and NADAAA (Boston) have designed a facility that demonstrates exceptional quality in both its design and function. The building will be a dynamic centre of learning, both a ‘living’ and ‘learning’ environment that will exist as a large-scale laboratory and demonstration building for sustainable design. This concept is evident in the distinctive coffered roof with its suspended studio, and the porosity of the building that responds to solar loads, innovative construction systems and functional needs. The building features a studio hall on the first level that is a soaring light-filled collaborative space that transforms the interior and enables explorative learning.

Melbourne-School-Of-Design-By-John-Wardle-Architects-NADAAA-07-John-Horner-759x506 Melbourne School Of Design / John Wardle Architects & NADAAA

© John Horner

The project presented many challenges to the architects. The creation of a new building that is to be used to create the design talent of the future is obviously a signifi cant and watershed project. And, with the building being located at the centre of the historic core of a fully functioning University campus, ensuring that the needs of all the stakeholders are met with minimum disruption to the day-to-day workings of the University takes skill, dedication and teamwork.

Melbourne-School-Of-Design-By-John-Wardle-Architects-NADAAA-08-Peter-Bennetts-759x501 Melbourne School Of Design / John Wardle Architects & NADAAA

© Peter Bennetts

“A strict program and budget guides a new School of Architecture– without dedicated studio desks for its students. For this reason, the raised atrium of this project serves as the hybrid space of student drafting, team collaborations, large scale gatherings, and social events that characterize the life of the building. Among its many features, a wood coffered roof structure draws in southern light while suspending the vising critics’ studio space as a structural icon within the interior.” – NADAAA

“We had to ensure that we incorporated the heritage façade within the new building at the same time as achieving honesty in the use of building materials whilst meeting stringent acoustic, serviceability and budgetary requirements,” Stephen Georgalas, John Wardle Architects.

Melbourne-School-Of-Design-By-John-Wardle-Architects-NADAAA-11-John-Horner-856x1200 Melbourne School Of Design / John Wardle Architects & NADAAA

© John Horner

Design Features:

  • The design of the building facilitates collaborative interdisciplinary engagement and the critical exploration of complex built environment issues. The unique transparency of the space supports the vision of a pedagogical building. Exposed materials and structures, such as the underside of the Y-Stairs, give insight into construction techniques and fabrication. Features such as the steel mesh balustrade and open top gallery allow for sight-lines and transparency between levels.
Melbourne-School-Of-Design-By-John-Wardle-Architects-NADAAA-10-Peter-Bennetts-759x762 Melbourne School Of Design / John Wardle Architects & NADAAA

© Peter Bennetts

  • The new building will give students the opportunity to work in a wide variety of workplaces and types of spaces. Unlike traditional campus buildings, which are usually closed to external view, the design allows those outside to see what takes place in a studio environment.
  • The building is planned around a massive open chamber. The intention is to inspire collaboration and flexibility, and to “provide a place for learning and research that highlights the abundance of possibilities for students to consider when responding to the demands of complex problems,” says John Wardle.
Melbourne-School-Of-Design-By-John-Wardle-Architects-NADAAA-15-Peter-Bennetts-847x1200 Melbourne School Of Design / John Wardle Architects & NADAAA

© Peter Bennetts

  • Within this building the next generation of architects, urban planners, ecologists, builders and landscape architects will learn to work in a highly connected way. Our design in collaboration with Boston architecture firm NADAAA is driven by the idea that the building itself becomes built pedagogy and a broader studio environment.
  • The architecture, inherent planning, spatial arrangements and configurations, particular programmatic adjacencies and relationships foster a rich, dynamic environment that becomes a point of stimulus, a catalyst for creativity and inventive design research.
  • With its many inventive structural and environmental ideas, the building becomes a live learning tool for students and staff alike.
Melbourne-School-Of-Design-By-John-Wardle-Architects-NADAAA-18-Peter-Bennetts-856x1200 Melbourne School Of Design / John Wardle Architects & NADAAA

© Peter Bennetts

  • The idea of what architecture can give back to the community also works at the scale of the university. Connecting back into the network of buildings and courtyards, our design operates as an urban gesture reinforcing the workings and systems of the campus.
  • The transparent facades and open permeable ground plane reveals the creative and collaborative activities to the rest of the university community.
Melbourne-School-Of-Design-By-John-Wardle-Architects-NADAAA-19-John-Horner-759x485 Melbourne School Of Design / John Wardle Architects & NADAAA

© John Horner

  • Rather than assuming a singular identity, the Melbourne School of Design introduces an assemblage of architectural moments to the university campus. At the eastern edge, a large external stair leads students up to the atrium level and also serves as an outdoor amphitheatre. On its southern facade, the building is devoid of sunshading. The different facade treatments emphasize the building’s response to solar orientation.
  • The structural components of the Y-stair at the western end of the atrium are left exposed. Interstitial spaces have also been considered as possible areas for learning. Tables lining the balconies of the atrium provide informal working areas. The building’s boldest spatial gesture is its four-storey atrium, which rises from the first floor and features a dramatic coffered ceiling.
Melbourne-School-Of-Design-By-John-Wardle-Architects-NADAAA-28-John-Horner-759x982 Melbourne School Of Design / John Wardle Architects & NADAAA

© John Horner

John Wardle Architects:

Following an international design competition JWA and NADAAA were appointed as architects to design the new Melbourne School of Design building for the University of Melbourne. The University embraced the unusual creative relationship proposed between the two practices as collaborative design partners across all aspects of the project. The project integrates the requirements of both the University’s Property and Campus Services and the Faculty.

Melbourne-School-Of-Design-By-John-Wardle-Architects-NADAAA-45-John-Horner-851x1200 Melbourne School Of Design / John Wardle Architects & NADAAA

© John Horner

The design process has involved regular briefing meetings, workshops and presentations with various faculty user groups, University Committees and Reference groups. The building design responds to the planning principles set out in the 2008 University of Melbourne Parkville Campus Master Plan.

The building design meets its briefed area and budget targets, comprising of 6 levels (basement plus five levels) and incorporates two lecture theatres, workshop, library, two exhibition spaces, cafe, a series of studios over three levels, a studio hall, and a series of associated academic and professional workspaces captured within the briefed 15,772 m2 GFA.

Melbourne-School-Of-Design-By-John-Wardle-Architects-NADAAA-57-Peter-Bennetts-759x735 Melbourne School Of Design / John Wardle Architects & NADAAA

© Peter Bennetts

Central to the design is the Studio Hall, a large flexible space that provides for informal occupation over all times of the day. The Studio Hall is enclosed to the west side by the former Bank of New South Wales façade, and to the east side the Studio Hall overlooks the new courtyard. It is spatially book ended at the east side by the heritage façade of the Elisabeth Murdoch building.

The Studio Hall is enclosed by a coffered timber roof that mediates natural daylight and assists natural ventilation. The building has been designed to incorporate a number of innovative structural and services systems that combined with the building’s façade system contribute to achieving the targeted 6 star green star rated building.

Melbourne-School-Of-Design-By-John-Wardle-Architects-NADAAA-62-Peter-Bennetts-759x318 Melbourne School Of Design / John Wardle Architects & NADAAA

© Peter Bennetts

Project Data:

Project name: Melbourne School Of Design
Location: University of Melbourne, Parkville, Melbourne, Victoria, 3010, Australia
Coordinates: -37.797295, 144.962738
Type: University
Project Area: 15,772 sqm

  • Teaching Spaces 3,538 sqm
  • Workshop 757 sqm
  • Library 1,297 sqm
  • Research Higher Degree Students 640 sqm
  • Academic Workspace 2,300 sqm
  • Professional Workspace 638 sqm
  • Exhibition 210 sqm

Project Year: 2009-2014
Status: Built
Cost: $129 million
Completion Year: August 2014


  • 2016 – WIN Awards – Category: Workspace Interiors / Greater than 10,000 square metres – Winner
  • 2015 – Australian Interior Design Awards – Category: Public Design – Winner
  • 2015 – Architizer A+ Awards – Typology Categories: Educational>Higher Education & Research Facilities – Popular Choice Winner
  • 2015 – Green Star – Green Building Council Australia (GBCA) Award – Education Design v1 – 6 Star Green Star Certified Rating
  • 2015 – Australian Institute of Architects Awards – Victorian Architecture Awards – Category: Urban Design – Shortlist
  • 2015 – Australian Institute of Architects Awards – Victorian Architecture Awards – Category: Interior Architecture – Shortlist
  • 2015 – Australian Institute of Architects Awards – Victorian Architecture Awards – Category: Educational Architecture – Shortlist

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: University of Melbourne – Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning

  • John Wardle Architects – 25 Rokeby Street, Collingwood, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 3066
  • NADAAA – 1920 Washington Street #2. Boston, MA, 02118 United States

Interior designer: John Wardle Architects and NADAAA in collaboration

Project Team:

  • John Wardle Architects project team: John Wardle, Stefan Mee (principals-in-charge); Meaghan Dwyer (senior associate); Stephen Georgalas (project manager); Bill Krotiris, Andy Wong, Jasmin Williamson, Adam Kolsrud, Alex Peck, Barry Hayes, Jeff Arnold, Amanda Moore, James Loder, Danny Truong, Stuart Mann, Meron Tierney, Kenneth Wong, Sharon crabb, Yohan Abhayaratne, Rebecca Wilkie, Ben Sheridan, Giorgio Marfella, Kirrilly Wilson, Elisabetta Zanella, Adrian Bonaventura, Genevieve Griffiths, Michael Barraclough, Matthew Browne, Maria Bauer, Anja Grant (team)
  • NADAAA project team: Nader Tehrani (principal-in-charge); John chow (project manager); Arthur chang (design coordinator); Katie Faulkner, James Juricevich, Parke MacDowell, Marta Guerra Pastrián, Tim Wong, Ryan Murphy, Ellee Lee, Kevin Lee, Rich Lee (team)

Project Manager: Aurecon Group
General Contractor : Brookfield Multiplex


  • Mechanical/Electrical Engineer : Aurecon Group
  • Structural/Civil Engineer : Irwinconsult
  • Geotechnical Engineer : Douglas Partners
  • Traffic Engineering : Cardno


  • Landscape Architect : Oculus
  • Lighting Designer : Electrolight
  • Quantity Surveyor : Rider Levett Bucknall
  • Building Services Engineering And Sustainability Consultancy : Umow Lai
  • Building Sustainability Comissioning Agent : A.G. Coombs Group
  • Building Certifier : McKenzie Group
  • Accessibility Consultant : One Group ID
  • Acoustic Consultant : AECOM
  • Heritage Architects : RBA Architects + Conservation Consultants
  • Audio Visual : Avdec
  • Security : Aurecon Group

Text Description: © Courtesy of John Wardle Architects, NADAAA, Melbourne School Of Design, knaufplasterboard, architectureau
Images: © John Wardle Architects, NADAAA, Peter Bennetts, John Horner, John Gollings, Roland Halbe


Location Map:

Related Posts:

Melbourne School Of Design / John Wardle Architects & NADAAA
Reader Rating 7 Votes

Post's Gallery:

Send this to a friend