Lab265 at The School of Electrical and Information Engineering at The University of Sydney has recently undergone a dramatic refurbishment designed and documented by Arena Design Architects. The original 1970s concrete & brick laboratory space is now a state of the art teaching facility incorporating the latest technologies combined with a dynamic learning environment. The project brief called for a redesign of the laboratory to accommodate 72 students and teaching staff. The Lab had to exhibit a fresh, iconic identity to compete in the educational marketplace while still being highly functional technically and space efficient in its planning logic. Requiring a significant upgrade to bring it into the 21st Century, the redesign has humanized what had been a very dated and overtly technical environment.
An initial 3D CAD model was designed in a tight timeline demonstrating the concepts and aesthetics proposed. This then allowed ideas to be viewed from different angles and subsequently enabled stakeholders and consultants to have maximum input and understanding as the documentation developed. Thirty-six workbenches gathered in back-to-back groups of four provide space for students to work collaboratively at each, and, laid out at right angles to the northern window wall, allow a natural connection to a landscaped courtyard outside. The bold colour aesthetic forms a contemporary response to the original stark character of the space, adds an aesthetic dynamism and also ensures that the extent of electronic equipment in the lab doesn’t overwhelm the clarity of the layout. Existing parquetry flooring was refurbished to retain some natural texture in the laboratory and workbenches were fitted with series of yellow joinery panels to add definition to the circulation pattern.
The laboratory, boasting a 5 metre ceiling height, allowed for the insertion of an impressive dropped ceiling focussed over a major Breakout Zone encouraging students and staff to work in collaboration at a circular table. This zone is overlooked by the main teaching bench, dubbed Mission Control, housing an interactive audio-visual demonstration bench which can beam images of experiments to each student’s PC and to the main AV Screen.
Lab265 at Sydney University Sydney NSW
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