The Project Brief given by the client was to re-look and re-think the design of the communal spaces throughout the entire Arts Building and provide more pleasant spaces for students to perform various activities and quiet spaces for student study functions. The spaces also needed to work slightly harder to act as informal discussion meeting points, project discussion area and provide the students space to store different belongings that comes with the day to day student life. There were also a few selected teaching spaces that needed to be addressed to enhance the teaching and learning experience. Due to the building being of a certain age and the practice of teaching has evolved over the period of the life of the building, the existing spaces were shy of the modern technology that are being used to teach with. The existing teaching spaces also suffered from the shear difficulty of teaching due to the physical constraints such as acoustics, lighting and appropriate furniture. The brief also took the design external, for the refurbishment of the Internal Open Courtyard and to transform the existing to a support alternative informal meeting space or just a space to reflect and break from the norm.
The most challenging part of the brief was to change and modernize the finishes in th building but yet keeping the character of the building with the exposed concrete structure and concrete block and glass modular infill’s. As part of the design response, a conscious decision were made in terms of colour. In order to lift the space and the building into the present time, the exposed structure were treated as the monotone backdrop and colour were introduced through the floor finishes, the finishes of loose furniture and acoustic panels, the introduction of AV monitors throughout the building which provide dynamic visual movement and replacing the entire ceiling with a crisp new system with integrated new lighting that assist of lifting the brightness to the various spaces. As part of the execution strategy we had to take all stakeholder concerns into account as they are the final occupier of the space with different needs. We however succeeded in finding a universal balance to differentiate between faculties, schools and also giving each space it’s own identity with encompassing wayfinding to assist the end-user with direction in finding locations.
The accommodation was throughout all the communal spaces on the upper floors with selected formal and informal teaching spaces. At any given time the space could be vacant or occupied but more importantly, the students have a space that they can enjoy and utilize as an oasis during a quick break. These formal and informal break-out spaces also provide actions such as collision discussions and ad-hoc information sharing.
Our Design approach was strongly advocated by the nature of the building where the existing fabric needed to be complimented with strategically placed services. As a base principle we provided a monotone finish and textured backdrop with splashes of colour being introduced by vibrant colour fabric acoustic panels. Vibrant and acoustically treated break-out areas provide welcomed sanctuary with a complete break from the work zone with all the necessary services needed to conduct informal discussions or meetings. Within the staff canteen, the complimentary clash between new and old creates a space that is rich in character in an historic backdrop.
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