Here at Best Group, I always encourage the entire team to get out in the field at every available opportunity to experience what spatial design colleagues are creating and implementing in the built environment.
So… having read in the media that RMIT has just opened its new ‘College of Business’ facility in Melbourne’s CBD, I thought it was time to practice what I preach and experience the new space! Especially considering I am a former student of the old Business Building 108 in Bourke St!
Amazed is an understatement…
University life for me conjures memories of being a student of RMIT who spent most of my learning time stuck in a room/theatre within a stereotpyed business tower within the CBD. In the front door, jump into a lift, off at the relevant floor and then straight to your ‘classroom’ or ‘lecture theatre’. It lacked personality, the architecture was dull, there was little (in fact hardly any) collaborative space and opportunity and the most interesting thing was being detached from the rest of the university campus.
This new building was announced whilst I was a student occupying the old Building 108, and after today’s experience, all I come away with is envy and jealousy. Perplexed with the thought of whether my experience as a student, and indeed my educational outcomes would been different if I had have been within the new Building 80 on Swanston Street.
I took my colleague along to primarily look at how wayfinding had been integrated into the new space from a users’ perspective (considering its a core part of what we do here at Best Group). Whilst the design strategy and execution of wayfinding signage is extremely complementary to the architecture, I found myself engaging with the space on a completely different level. Compliments to the wayfinding design consultant team, industry colleague Buro North, on their design execution!
What the architect has created is simply awe inspiring from a spatial exerperience perspective. Firstly, in comparison to my experience of the old business building; there were student and people EVERYWHERE. It was abuzz, alive and even was reminiscent of maybe the communal areas of a shopping centre, a food court or even the fragmented laneways that Melbourne is internationally renowned for.
There were students enjoying coffee from a cafe, sitting around in one of the many collaborative/communal spaces actually working. Technology was a plenty and peering into the learning spaces, the designers too have even pushed innovation in the way in which the modern classroom works.
Essentially; gone are all the clinical stereotypes and traditions of tertiary education. This facility makes the user feel part of something. I fundamentally believe the silos are being broken down with this space. The new building 80 for RMIT facilitates independence, collaboration, a sense of being and purpose and provides a true understanding of the meaning of learning; people sharing and challenging the notion of ideas and wisdom with others.
Lyons Architects and the entire project team should be applauded for creating what I can only describe as the most progressive and innovative learning space I have witnessed and experienced to date. I am sure that the other tertiary education providers will be reviewing with awe and scrambling to try and create something similar that merely scratches at the surface of what this building embodies.
RMIT needs to be congratulated for embracing and running with this truly world class idea. I have no doubt it is the direction of learning spaces for the future, and one that the entire world will be wanting to appreciate.