Gregory Burgess Architects

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Institute of Koorie Education The Weekly Review

Posted by Lynda Kotze | 23 June 2013

June 13, 2013
The Institute of Koorie Education
Reviewed by Clare Kennedy

Can a building change lives? Professor Wendy Brabham, director of the Deakin Institute of Koorie Education, is hopeful that the Institute’s new building will make a real impact on the future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
“I believe educational institutions within their architectural designs usually don’t consider the spaces required for the Aboriginal learner. Whereas, because we’ve been a part of designing this space with the architect, we bring to the table all the issues that underpin an Aboriginal student learner at the university level,” she says.
Designed by Greg Burgess, the Institute has been planned around an educational model that ensures students don’t have to leave their communities and families for long periods.
“Greg engaged, and understood the importance of the community-based model and that the space was important for the learner,” Brabham says.
Workshops with students, staff and Koorie elders determined that they wanted it to be like a home away from home. Classrooms, tutorial rooms and staff offices are distributed throughout the building, spaces informed by the teaching styles, administrative practices and needs of the learner.
“People have to walk between things, rather than being stuck in the same spot all day, so that walking and talking is a part of the educational philosophy,” he says.
“A light filled void connects the lower and upper level ... the idea is it’s a highly sociable building and highly interconnected.”
A tree trunk props up a huge steel beam from the original structure; the bark remains but the tree’s branches have been cut off. “The tree is like a reminder of traditional culture being a support for contemporary life,” says Burgess.
The Institute of Koorie Education has been shortlisted in the public architecture alterations and additions category.

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