The Footscray Nicholson Learning Commons is a major institutional initiative to consolidate and create a highly visible address for each of the campus’ student services while maintaining a cohesive identity for the facility overall. The project encompasses the refurbishment of 3,500m2 across two floors of a concrete and brick 1980’s public works building.
The design outcome features a meandering double-height laneway cut through the existing building, connecting the public space on each side and the two levels within the building. The laneway references the scale and texture of Melbourne’s vibrant and intimate city lanes and provides an easily recognisable access point for student services.
Double height internal facades along each side of the lane open to the library, computer pit, cafeteria, career services, student engagement and student support, each with a clear address and identity. The volume of the laneway creates a panorama which encourages visual connection between levels. The carving of the Commons Lane has created new frontage to the building, blurring what is internal and external.
The scheme delivers a complex but unified environment for learning, technology, food and interaction in a space with the inherent legibility and familiarity of a city lane.