Designing the audio visual services for one of the University of Melbourne’s most significant building projects in recent years was an interesting challenge, and one that has successfully delivered new, dynamic purpose-built learning and teaching spaces for students and staff.
The recently completed $65M Arts West redevelopment is the new home for the University’s Bachelor of Arts. It aims to give undergraduates access to world-class spaces, and support knowledge access and sharing, internationalisation and engagement with the digital world.
According to experienced Audio Visual Consultant Simon Umow, the opportunity to provide the audio visual design tailored for the needs of both students and staff was an exciting one for Umow Lai, a member of the project team that included architects ARM and Architectus and the University.
“All members of the User Groups and the Design Team had very strong ideas about functional and aspiration goals for the project,” Simon commented. “Our early engagement with the team ensured these were captured and incorporated into the design and delivery of the audio visual systems, meeting and exceeding expectations of all involved.
“Lecture theatres are generally non-traditional in shape: but several of these are round or horseshoe-shaped as a means to promote cross-room interaction among the students, as well as providing flexibility,” Simon added.
State-of-the art audio visual systems have been introduced into teaching spaces. They include:
- 150 and 60 person discursive spaces that encourage cross-room discussion while allowing students to maintain eye contact with others in the class, and a comfortable view of projected images.
- Interactive Cinema Room with cinema quality projection and surround-sound audio system to replicate cinema like environment for viewing, studying and discussing movies, video and soundtracks.
- Edge blended, geometrically corrected projection systems to curved walls creating an immersive viewing experience.
- Media Lab which allows users to display multiple video sources simultaneously on a large video wall, each video source sized on the video wall to suit the requirements of the particular users of the space.
- 30 and 60 seat collaborative spaces allowing small groups of students to work together, share video content with each other and with other small groups located in the same room.
- Specialised teaching rooms to combine the great potential for object-based learning presented by staff from Cultural Collections, who are responsible for the care and conservation of precious objects.
From the outset, the University was keen to provide facilities that respond to the rapidly changing nature of delivering first-class learning, as well spaces that can allow students to expand their learning experience out into the increasingly digitalised, competitive and globalised world.
The project also includes a dedicated facility for the Digital Humanities, incorporating Collaborative, Immersive, and Project Research, Multipurpose and Exhibition spaces and technologies for use by researchers, students, collaborators and industry partners.
Situated opposite the iconic Old Arts Building, Arts West references the sandstone history of Old Arts and the colonnades of the Old Quadrangle, while bringing something entirely new to the campus. It is directly linked by a walkway to the University’s primary research collections of the Baillieu Library.
Image courtesy of Ian Davidson (Architectus)