The serrated rock faces of the Australia’s Glass House Mountains give a unique geologic identity to the country’s sunny eastern coast. Our latest project in Brisbane knits this natural world into architecture, creating a building both aligned with and inspired by, the native landscape.
The six-level, 11,000 m2 Peter Coaldrake Education Precinct layers classroom, research, and office facilities atop an airy ground-level atrium, framing upper academic spaces around an active social foundation. Its terraced form ascends a hill toward the QUT Library, incorporating a broad, planted outdoor staircase designed as both a convenient thoroughfare and an informal social space. Merging dedicated research facilities with the energy of the greater campus, the Faculty of Education building promises new social connections in a setting intimately connected with the campus community and the Australian natural environment.
For Jakob Kurek, Partner at Henning Larsen, the project expands new models of learning, as the team sought to create an academic space that supported life beyond the classroom.
“We wanted to create an environment that supports many different ways to learn. Flexibility was key here, and we planned for a variety of learning situations and new teaching methods,” Kurek said. “The large, terraced atrium between the library and the new building is designed as a big part of wayfinding on campus. It creates a very visible connection into the library and the surrounding planted landscape; collecting teachers, researchers, and students on the same level in this social core.”
A visual parallel with the layered faces of the Glass House Mountains, the building takes inspiration from the Australian landscape to shape a more comfortable existence in the local climate: Its self-shading, offset volumes and external louvers help to reduce the building’s solar heating intake up to 40 percent, while still allowing ample natural daylight. This means more sustainable independence from climate control systems and fluorescent lighting, deepening green roots through conscious design.
Developed in close collaboration with Brisbane-based Wilson Architects as well as Opus International engineers, TCL landscape architects, and contractor Hansen Yuncken. Opening for the fall semester at QUT, the Peter Coaldrake Education Precinct explores new attitudes toward learning, creating community and supporting sustainability.