Working closely with the University’s project manager Donald Cant Watts Corke, a detailed site analysis of several locations on campus was undertaken to determine the ultimate position for the project. The new addition was sited in a prominent location at the corner of Brunswick Street and Victoria Parade, Fitzroy on what was a vacant tramways lot. The space connects directly with St Mary of the Cross Square, ensuring the building is fully integrated into the campus whilst activating what was once a derelict site.
The C-shaped design made up of 46 modules includes external decking with both covered walkways and open-air breakout spaces that connect the learning spaces around the perimeter and optimise the northern orientation. The building utilises the bluestone plinth from a former tramways building to produce a connection to the site’s past, while the façade takes its inspiration from surrounding structures. A combination of Vitrabond and Colorbond produced a vertical rhythm along the streetscape. The building is completely integrated with ACU’s data, audio-visual and security systems and due to its location on a busy intersection of tramways and roads, it was acoustically designed to block out external noise.
The prefab project was completed in two stages. In stage 1, 23 prefabricated modules were constructed in a total of 12 weeks. This first stage comprises 2,000 square metres of learning space. This was installed in only four nights between 1 and 4am to avoid disrupting the tram network. The second stage, another 23 modules installed on top of stage one, provides a further 1,315 square metres of learning and office space. These modules were installed during the university holidays, this time in only 12 hours. Brunswick St was closed to traffic and buses replaced trams during this remarkably quick installation, again minimising disruption to the campus and surrounding infrastructure and attracting great curiosity among passers-by.