MELBOURNE – Bentleigh Secondary College Meditation and Indigenous Cultural Centre was recently completed by dwp|suters in Melbourne, Australia.

The aim of the project was to facilitate natural environment education for students on their way to becoming responsible ‘sustainable citizens’.

‘Strong Environmentally Sustainable Design principles were at the forefront of dwp|suters collaboration and support for the school’s desire to create not only a sustainable campus but to change the behaviours of both students and staff and the wider community in best practice environmental management.’

The design concept shows ‘the contrasting nature of our inner and outer self through materiality and form’.

Renewable timber is the main construction material. The interior is made of plywood formed into smooth curves and is daylit with openable windows. Walls, floors and benches are all made of plywood, which creates visual continuity through the space, in line with the principles of meditation.

A pond just outside the structure also adds to the feeling of ‘reflection’.

The exterior is made of hardwood cladding. It has a similar curvature as the interior, but will weather – or ‘silver’ – over time, making the building look like a more natural part of the landscape.

As the Centre is a multiple-use building without rigid specifications, it accommodates ‘a multitude of programmatic requirements with a single primary flexible space that can be reprogrammed as necessary and includes smaller service spaces grouped to the side’.

The ramp of the building gives it an almost ceremonial approach, like you might expect when entering a museum or temple. The ramp also situates the building firmly in its place.

Photos courtesy of Emma Cross