Collaborative Construction; The Design of the Wade Institute

16th February 2016

We talk to Lead Architect, Natasa Vuletas and Principal Architect, Kai Chen of Lovell Chen about the design of the Wade Institute.

How have you designed the building to respond to and influence the learning that will take place at the Wade Institute?

Chen: We didn’t want the building to dictate how people learn, students should be able to make their own spaces. We’ve designed it to be a very flexible building, and for it to empower the user. The space will provide the user with a kit of parts, so they can set up rooms to either be round or square. We also know that people like to write, so every surface can be written on or projected onto. Every part has a practical function. It’s one of engagement.

The Wade Institute is aiming for passive house certification*, and we’re starting to see more buildings in Australia doing the same, what was the motivation for this?

Natasa: The project has been a very collaborative process, we have architects, engineers and builders all working together, so we decided to make a passive house, that way we are working towards achieving the same thing (certification). When we started the design process we had a couple of ideas for where to take it. We didn’t want to create just another learning institute, “There is a real entrepreneurial spirit to our process. Like any good startup you must have prototypes.” We wanted to create something quite special, and we wanted to work with the landscape.

Chen: When making a passive house you have to be careful with the detailing, and you must use good materials, the building has to be sealed which isn’t common in Australia. Most houses have been designed to breathe, and we’re using a different technology to achieve that. With passive house certification, this building will use 10% of the energy that a similar building would use.

You (Chen) have said that “the power of the space will come from the people who occupy it,” how does this effect the way you create the space?

Chen: We’ve taken the teaching model (of the Master of Entrepreneurship) and used it in our construction process, it’s very collaborative, which has been a new process for everyone involved. Everyone is committed to making it work. We are all aiming to do the best, there is a real entrepreneurial spirit to our process. Like any good startup you must have prototypes, so we are making and testing the space as we go along. We’re hoping this will carry on after the construction process, with the new occupants of the space.

**The term passive house (Passivhaus in German) refers to a rigorous, voluntary standard for energy efficiency in a building, reducing its ecological footprint. It results in ultra-low energy buildings that require little energy for space heating or cooling.

For more information on Lovell Chen, visit http://www.lovellchen.com.au

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