Manufacturing Engineering Skills Centre (MESC) & Federation College (FedCol)
Gray Puksand & McIldowie Partners, Architects in Association
Ballarat Precinct, SMB Campus Grant Street Ballarat, Victoria 3350 Australia
Paul de Podolinsky (Gray Puksand)
Nicole Reed / Paul de Podolinsky
Co-located in Federation University Australia, Ballarat Precinct, SMB Campus, the Manufacturing Engineering Skills Centre (MESC) and Federation College (FedCol) Building has evolved from a merger of two separate design briefs; client groups, state and federal funding sources, to establish a single unified project. The building forms a regional focal point for each of the program requirements.
The brief for new MESC within the FedUni TAFE sector was “to provide state of the art facilities for light and heavy fabrication as well as mechanical, robotic and mechatronic labs. With a focus on the delivery of traditional trade skills, there will also be an emphasis on innovation in design and prototyping”. MESC is a key new facility forming part of the SMB campus Industry Skills Centre (ISC).
The sculptured MESC building is derived as an analogous form of a ‘machined metal block’ with the ‘fractal’ external cladding conceived from the nano-texture of metal at a microscopic level. The textured pattern and form reflects Ballarat’s manufacturing industry by combining traditional elements of the ‘factory tin shed’ with the textured pattern, using a higher technology rain-shield façade construction. The aspiration and transparency creates a 21st Century flexible learning facility that celebrates the education of manufacturing and enables a ‘public’ interface between students, teachers, industry and passers-by.
The FedCol (UBtec) brief was to deliver an education facility providing focused learning pathways with a technical emphasis for VOCAL training. The centre enables hands-on learning programs that “distil industry specific skills, work-related skills, literacy, numeracy and personal development relevant to life and work”. Furthermore, “the facility provides support for technically minded students whom have further university aspirations”.
Post construction, the brief expanded within FedCol “to cater for a wider range of international students to learn or improve English skills and provide a clear pathway towards employment or further study, depending on their goals, and increasing access to the local community”. The architecture manifests itself in the form of iconic triangulated patterns depicting emerging pathways that confront today’s youth and aims to create an environment that nurtures education and individual growth. As a consequence of merging buildings, challenges such as the blank toilet wall facing the student centred learning environment were overcome by the use of vibrant and recognisable environmental graphics to enliven the experience and student ownership of the FedCol student centred learning cohort.
The co-located buildings share common facilities to maximise spatial efficiencies, educational synergies, promote informal collaboration between the two organisations and attain sustainable objectives.