Drawing on the past

Monash University's Chancellery puts a new spin on facade shading screens from mid-20th Century corporate headquarter buildings

Designed by ARM Architecture

From the Architects:

Monash Chancellery will be a new front door for the Clayton Campus: an emblematic building that communicates Monash’s brand and identity for the 21st Century.

What’s a chancellery?

Traditionally, university chancelleries have been workplaces for principal administrators. Monash’s also contains offices for the chancellor and vice chancellor and their staff.

The new Chancellery will be a place for senior decision makers to meet distinguished visitors, industry partners and prospective staff.

ARM and joint venture partners Geyer felt that a chancellery in 21st Century Melbourne should also be a portal between the university and the surrounding community. Architecturally, it must make a considered first impression.


ARM and joint venture partners Geyer felt that architecture, building, campus, city, condominium, facade, house, human settlement, landmark, leisure, metropolitan area, mixed-use, pavilion, public space, real estate, residential area, sky, tourism, town square, urban design
ARM and joint venture partners Geyer felt that a chancellery in 21st Century Melbourne should also be a portal between the university and the surrounding community. Architecturally, it must make a considered first impression.

The façade

The rectangular building has a glass façade wrapped in a shading screen, or brise soleil, that controls direct sunlight onto the glass. This idea comes from the tradition of corporate headquarters of the mid-20th Century, and we are recapturing it using digital design techniques and new materials.

The corporate headquarters of that period tended to have the external walls of glass buildings shaded by elaborated lattices or grids.

At ground level, below the brise soleil, is a series of columns that creates a covered walkway open to the whole university community.

It’s a welcoming contemporary version of the traditional university cloister. (Our University of Melbourne Arts West also has a contemporary cloister.)

We’re proposing that rather than being uniform, selected columns will feature a different commissioned artwork. There will be up to 15 bespoke columns each designed by a different artist.

The cloister creates a place to gather, a promenade that displays art representing the intellect and values of Monash University. It invites people in, making the Chancellery approachable and welcoming. It’s as much a landscape element as part of the building.

The brise soleil is made in modules, some of them simple rectangular panels and others more complicated folded shapes. The panels look different from different angles. They remind you of Escher tessellations.

 
One of the Chancellery’s most spectacular design features architecture, building, ceiling, daylighting, interior design, lobby, room, gray
One of the Chancellery’s most spectacular design features is the clerestory ceiling. It is covered with an image of Australian artist Margaret Preston’s lino-cut print, Tea-Tree And Hakea Petiolaris (1936), visible from all floors through the building’s central voids.

Interiors

The Chancellery has a distinctive design motif: the subtracted form.

Imagine the building as a solid block, and we carved out two bunches of giant chair legs in random shapes from the block’s centre. This created two great rounded voids whose shapes we simplified somewhat. Next, we carved out the rest of the interiors, leaving only the floor plates and ceiling. We did this using 3D design software.

One of the Chancellery’s most spectacular design features is the clerestory ceiling. It is covered with an image of Australian artist Margaret Preston’s lino-cut print, Tea-Tree And Hakea Petiolaris (1936), visible from all floors through the building’s central voids. (Incidentally, there are tea-trees growing around the campus.)

Beneath the clerestory ceiling, which is scallop shaped to match the voids, the windows draw natural light into the whole building.

What’s a clerestory?

A clerestory (clearstory, clearstorey, or overstorey) is a space with high windows for bringing in natural light, fresh air, or both.

They are traditional in Egyptian temples, Roman basilica or the naves of Romanesque or Gothic churches. Ours, of course, has a completely different aesthetic but it has panes all the way around that bring natural light into the whole atrium.

Oct 18, 2019

Credit list

Client
Monash University
Completion due
December 2019
Area
6400 m2
Location
Melbourne, Vic
Budget
$68 M
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