Sir Zelman Cowen Centre for Science

Scotch College, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Victoria

‘Engaging curious minds’ is the Scotch College Science motto which became intrinsic to the design of the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre for Science [SZCCS].

SZCCS includes 8 general science laboratories, 13 specialist laboratories, student-lead research spaces, prep rooms, staff facilities, an auditorium and collaborative areas over 3 levels plus a rooftop garden.

One of the challenges was addressing the mass of the building.  A tally of the briefed areas demonstrated the new building would be much larger than anything on Campus.  To resolve this, the mass was articulated by floating the stone-clad upper pods above the level 1 glazed façade, then anchoring the building on a faceted plinth. Vertical stone louvres and glazed insets further reduce the scale of the building and the central void introduces light into the deep floor plate.

Programmatically, the building is defined by its circulation.  Students use screened perimeter concourses to enter the laboratories and central collaborative spaces.  Internal staff circulation securely connects laboratories, prep areas and staff spaces.  Despite dual circulation, student-staff interaction is actively supported. Direct sightlines into previously closed-off technical areas engages students and provides passive surveillance.   Students and staff share the central collaborative spaces, fostering a culture of learning.

The architecture supports the pedagogical program of Scotch College: integration of theoretical and practical learning which includes group, independent and tutor-supported learning. Collaborative lounge areas, media booths, reading nooks and roof-top learning spaces encourage learning outside the classroom environment- student response has been overwhelmingly positive.


The Sir Zelman Cowen Centre for Science will prepare students for a lifetime of learning and curiosity-both within and beyond the fields of Science.


  • Technical Information
  • Cox Team
Scotch College
Project Status
Key Consultants
Taylor Thomson Whitting, Norman Disney & Young
Contractor / Builder
Kane Constructions
Gross Floor Area
Pui-Sin Betty Chung
Steph Wan Hok Chee
Li Vee Tan
Lin Lin
William Cassell