Geoff Handbury Science and Technology Hub
The new Geoff Handbury Science and Technology Hub at Melbourne Grammar School, is a simple, singular sculptural structure. It produces compelling imagery that alludes to the scientific and technological investigations taking place within. The building is sympathetic to the campus heritage and identity, contributing to the ‘Bluestone Campus’ character in both form and colour. It also engages with the wider campus landscape; the curved building forms a clear and direct response to the main oval. The internal arrangement accommodates new and emerging pedagogies by being highly flexible, highly transparent, and highly efficient in its organisation. It is characterised by broader settings for teaching and learning; spaces that enable collaborative learning; and blurred distinctions between formal and informal learning within and outside the classroom / laboratory spaces. The Laboratory Benches are located in the Outdoor Learning Area, an indoor / outdoor learning space on the top floor of the Hub. The benches create a unique identity for the space which is used as a scientific exploration / experimentation area, to complement the more formal teaching laboratories on the floors below. The benches are curved in plan to foster collaboration in small group settings.
Corian® was chosen for the Laboratory Benches in the Outdoor Learning Area for its durability, a key requirement in a school laboratory setting. The malleability of the product in achieving a completely integrated and seamless finish, including the range of Corian® integrated sinks, was also a fundamental reason for choosing this product. This afforded an opportunity to design a laboratory bench of artistic quality.
The Laboratory Benches feature complex double-curved surfaces, being curved in plan and tapering in section. This creates a striking design with ergonomic form, allowing students to stand comfortably at the benches and eliminating the need for protective kickplates. Each bench was constructed off-site in three sections, and final joining and polishing was completed onsite to create an integrated seamless finish.
The outcome of the Laboratory Benches has confirmed the malleability of Corian® in achieving an integrated seamless finish. Feedback from the school after just three months of using the benches has been extremely positive; students and teachers alike have commented on the comfort of the benches, and the striking quality has inspired different interpretations. For example, indigenous students have likened the curved forms to serpents and the Dreamtime.
The Laboratory Benches are a striking addition to the Outdoor Learning Area at the Hub. The dynamic double-curved surfaces in Glacier White create a unique identity for the space which aims to promote scientific exploration / experimentation.