BRISBANE – The University of Queensland’s Brisbane Campus recently opened an academic building that practises what it preaches. The Advanced Engineering Building (AEB), a collaboration between Australian architects Richard Kirk and HASSELL Studio, sports an incredibly diverse range of materials and sustainable technologies inspired by the research and learning that take place under its roof. The architects hope to provide students of engineering, a particularly hands-on field, with a place where they can be immersed in the content of their studies.
The building’s sunny northern façade is just one site in the expansive building where, according to HASSELL’s Mark Loughnan, ‘materials were selected based on their capacity to educate and inform students about material characteristics and applications’. The glass wall is covered by a screen of small terra cotta tiles that provide shade and cast dynamic shadows on the building’s interior. Inside the AEB, distinct structural systems also coexist, namely reinforced concrete and heavy timber. The architects even made possible ‘real time monitoring of the building’s structural and climatic performance, making it a subject for study in its own right’.
The architects sought ways of making the AEB spatially innovative as well. Laboratories, classrooms, and offices all share direct access to a multilevel public corridor, encouraging communication across disciplines and occupations. In the designers’ words, ‘The AEB’s design breaks down the boundaries between teaching, learning and research by co-locating teaching and research spaces across engineering and materials science disciplines, and bringing lectures into laboratories.’