Text description provided by the architects. Griffith University’s new Learning Commons is underpinned by choice, experimentation and serendipity. The design creates a range of internal and external learning environments which promote student and staff interactions, socialisation of space and strong synergies with the environmental and cultural context. The existing building is triangulated and transformed with a ‘permeable’ 160m long extension creating a strong identity and hub presence on University Drive.
The students, staff and general public will relish in the agile and readily re-purposable space. The volume under the shard can be utilised to stage events, enrolment day, O-week, TV interviews, markets, exhibitions whilst serving as a distinctive campus meeting point. The building is a significant component of the “New Griffith” and the GUMURRII Centre’s presence at ground level and adjacent to the central “aviary” garden promotes indigenous engagement and inclusion at the heart of the campus.
Continued observations of student needs and behaviours have informed the design. The building is student and user-centric and the additional benefits of a rigorous return briefing process have delivered the shard, sky lounge, aviary and link-up lounge – all spaces not included in the original brief. The permeability of the building is critical in terms of making this an inclusive, welcoming and 24/7 (in part) building.
To minimise the environmental footprint of the new learning commons, the new build maximises the residual value of the existing asset with the new massing and louvred skin serving as an environmental filter. The majority of the circulation is naturally ventilated and the centrally sited ‘aviary’ garden (which responded to the librarian’s analogy of students using space, provides a comfortable, relaxing and socially significant landscape which is detailed to suit the variable needs of the different semesters.
The development will re-establish the library as the campus heart with a simple, responsive and distinctive building.