“This project involved taking environmental leadership and promoting research and development of solutions for future sustainable outcomes,” said architect Andrew Cortese, managing partner of Grimshaw.
Given the need for collaboration and interdisciplinary work, particularly in the natural sciences, engineering, and information technology, Grimshaw focused on creating advanced manufacturing and space laboratories for students and researchers.
Although the disciplines that use the Woodside Building are relatively broad, the range of materials used indoors and outdoors is limited: steel frames, external steel panels and high-performance glazing.
The only other material used for the interior is wood, which is used in the informal meeting and classroom areas.
Spatially, the Woodside Building contradicts the typical hierarchies between learning, laboratory, research and administration.
“We have created a special volumetric system that arranges all rooms in an interlocking and interactive relationship. The users of this building can easily create clear visual and functional connections between all these elements, ”says Cortese, who created classrooms for 400 people.
“Research Neighborhoods” were also included, grouped into the 24-meter structural trusses.
The connection between these areas is essentially a more interactive “backbone” known as Alliance Lane.
Grimshaw and Monash University also made sure that this building was used for presentations. There are wide wooden stairs in the main foyer that also serve as seating, laboratories that open onto terraces (on the Exhibition Walk) and numerous rooms for students to meet, socialize and work.
Certified as a passive house, a demanding building standard that was originally developed for residential projects and was rarely used in large buildings of this size, the woodhouse building is one of the largest passive house buildings in the world and consumes only 35 percent of the energy requirements of a building of this size.
“We used state-of-the-art technology combined with extraordinary generation systems such as large PV systems on the roof,” says Cortese.
Very little was hidden in the Woodhouse Building at Monash University, with the rich ocher steel frame not only acting as an important structural component, but also a feature in its own right.
“A building for engineering, especially sustainable future engineering, should convey its own structure and functionality to the students.
“It was important to present all the services and the result is also the architectural expression,” says Cortese, who also appreciates the connection to other buildings on campus and landmarks beyond.
“It’s also about hugging the morning sun and enjoying the view over the Dandenong Ranges.”
Receiving a major architecture award is an extraordinary achievement.
When an office receives the Victorian Institute’s top honors in multiple categories, architecture is on a higher level.
“We should always start a project by trying to develop first innovations worldwide. But for that you have to take a leadership position, ”says Cortese.