The competition for the new Soheil Abedian School of Architecture for Bond University in the Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia has been won by CRAB – the studio of Sir Peter Cook and Gavin Robotham - in association with Brit Andresen.
The structure will sit on Arata Isozaki’s 1987 campus and will be attached to the University’s School of Sustainability. It presents a raw but highly modulated composition of fluted timber and panel surfaces. These are countered internally by large concrete ‘scoops’ that catch the bright light but screen out the direct sun. Between, lie a series of subtly varied two-storey studio barns that give onto a gently climbing street. Running along the other side of the street are a chain of offices and laboratories.
Apart from minute attention to natural climatic cooling and University’s target of 6-star green rating, the design is characterized by offering a variety of particular and memorable spaces – particularly the ‘scoops’ where formal and informal sessions, such as crits, demonstrations, experiments and constructions can be held. The building also digs into the ground so that the workshops can open out into a ‘pit’ where experimental and demonstration projects are exposed to the deck and garden area. Here – in keeping with the Queensland lifestyle, there is a surround of boardwalks and outdoor slopes.
The design is undoubtedly the product of experience: Cook and Andresen (respectively recipients of British and Australian Royal Gold Medals for architecture that both included teaching in their citations), look back together with Robotham, on more than 110 years of teaching between them!
For CRAB it is an opportunity to act as an intellectual balance with their Law School for the Vienna Economic University (now under construction). For Cook it is a second occurrence of the ‘poacher-turned-gamekeeper’ syndrome: in 2000 (with Colin Fournier) his long experience as exhibitor, curator and gallerist was background to a radical design.
From the Competition Report: 'Forested Pads and Silent Scoops'
Bond’s new School of Architecture might be experienced as a varied and episodic journey ; sheltered and determined to the north , the building is airy, effortless and free to the south.
The curvature of its spinal interior route establishes a new soft core for the North West Quadrant – a core populated by the life of the school by student experimentation, social gatherings, small lectures, crits and spontaneous events.
Leaving the existing spine pathway, the broad internal path dives under the nose of the quiet-study strip and runs along the side of the ‘scoops’. The path rises slowly upwards from the entrance – echoing the topography of adjoining garden.
From this street the faculty’s studios and larger gathering spaces spread out onto a terraced deck – which itself melts into the re-vegetated* garden.
Deck – studios - scoops -street -study strip, delineate the scheme.
We wish to create a very ambient building where the individual can really identify with the nature of his or her activity. Therefore the components of the building – the pads and scoops each have notable shifts of direction or size.
The wrapping of the building is a softer progression. Undulating in plan and sheltering from direct northern light (the sunny side) and filtering southern light into the interior. Avoiding glare and overheating.
All images courtesy of CRAB Studio.
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