The new Clinical School was designed as a contemporary teaching and research environment that is fully integrated with the University of Notre Dame Australia. The building facilitates an ongoing relationship between staff and students from the Clinical School, and staff, students and patients from the nearby Werribee Mercy Hospital. The design remains responsive to current and future requirements, demands of education, modes of building usage, and technology, in addition to retaining maximum flexibility of spatial configurations and functions.
The building is organised into five main zones; public, teaching, office administration, research and consultation suites. The central breakout or ‘hub’ is the main focal point of the building. It is a social space that facilitates interaction between staff, students and visiting public. The main entrances to the building and the primary public functions are organised within this central zone. The rest of the zones and their main circulation corridors are arranged to radiate off the central hub.
The building has been orientated to maximise passive forms of heating and cooling. Large eaves along the north facade have been designed to allow sun penetration in winter while blocking out the direct summer sun. A combination of natural vegetation and physical barriers are to be used to block harsh westerly winds into the courtyard.
Regional forces shaped and guided the development of the project. The built form undulates in mimicry of an imagined past topography of land and trees. Integrated planters follow the built form’s undulations and greater site planting mitigates the long gone local flora. Deep eaves respond to solar orientation and an angled building skirt provide horizontal planes that move around the building, shifting to define changes in function.
The selection of ‘domestic scale’ materials allowed for decreased lead times – speeding up the project’s procurement time – while the decision to lay out the facility over a single storey allows the University to expand the clinical school more easily in the future.
“This is a cutting edge medical school, which includes teaching, training and research facilities that will play an important role in training our future medical workforce. By locating clinical teaching facilities in outer Melbourne, the Government has ensured Victorians are given greater access to a locally trained health workforce which understands the needs of the region.” – The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for Health
“The new school further strengthens Notre Dame’s presence in Victoria and will make a valuable contribution to the medical needs of the local community. The building will also support the clinical education unit at Werribee Mercy Hospital which provides training for nurses and allied health professionals.” – Notre Dame Vice Chancellor, Professor Celia Hammond.