An Australian architecture firm, Wilson Architects, have been honoured over the weekend with one of the world’s most prestigious education architecture awards, the Council of Education Facility Planners International (CEFPI) New Construction Major Facility award.
The award for the cutting-edge James Cook University (JCU) Education Central project was announced as part of the 2014 CEFPI Annual Conference and Expo in Portland, Oregon.
The CEFPI jury was impressed by the sustainable approach to facility design and the provision of a 21st century learning facility.
The architects were congratulated for recognising “the critical importance of changing the way teachers are trained, and bringing the profession into a 21st century context with all that entails.”
“We’re honoured to win this prestigious award, which is a reflection of the importance of student-centred design,” Mr Wilson said.
“We took the opportunity to create an environment that better reflects JCU’s tropical identity, and builds a strong learning community through a combination of social and active learning spaces that keep students’ needs at the heart of the campus.”
The student-focused design appears to be paying off with positive staff and student responses to the new learning spaces.
Professor Nola Alloway, Dean of JCU’s College of Arts, Society and Education said, “Education Central has exceeded our expectations in creating a ‘sticky campus’. The inspiration deserves to go viral.”
The multi-million dollar Education Central is intended to improve student services and to incorporate contemporary methods of learning and teaching. The strategy behind the design was the location of teacher training to the ‘front and centre’ of campus, as well as ensuring that the structure was well connected within the large campus.
The collaborative design process involved comprehensive research, visiting other campuses and numerous consultations with the JCU community. This was followed by briefing workshops that delivered a briefing template which served the final design process well.
Wilson Architects, which this year celebrates 130 years of practice, specialises in education and science-based research facilities, and public buildings in Australia. The firm has also recently won an international competition to design a new city hall facility for the Miri City Council in Sarawak, Malaysia.