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Friday, March 27, 2009

School of Medicine, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia

UWS gets stunning new School of Medicine building

This $AUD50m building accommodates a new foundation medical school at The University of Western Sydney. As an integrated medical teaching and research environment it supports the contemporary educational principles of student centered learning and collaborative interdisciplinary research.

The building contributes to a grass roots local indigenous health service culture. Its other objective is to create an iconic gateway for the Campus attracting the best students and the best postgraduate research and teaching staff – a proud institutional addition to the Western suburbs.

In support of the client’s educational objectives, the key idea for the building was the creation of an iconic socio-educational external hub space. The space is covered with a tree like canopy and provides a focal point for the three different programmes (teaching laboratories, office accommodation and research laboratories) to come together to discuss medicine. Problem based learning pods clad in recycled timber provide home room identity for the students.

The learning spaces are designed as ‘enabling’ spaces, set up to enable students to move between self-directed learning, and with academic staff in a mentoring role. These spaces include large collaborative learning areas, virtual laboratories and spaces specifically focused on team learning activities.

All spaces within the complex are interconnected vertically with generous open stairs so that sharing between staff and students is optimised. Laboratories are designed on a generic platform allowing for changing research needs.

The solid East and West walls of the building are rendered in precast ‘brick’ panels, coloured to match the campus palette, in contrast to the transparent north and south facades.

The ‘gateway’ administration module is elevated off the ground to create a spacious colonnade at the building entry, encouraging access through to the hub spaces for people entering the campus.
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