Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership

  • Completed 2022
  • Location Melbourne, Australia,
  • DesignInc completed the Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership with a modern, yet warm space in Melbourne, Australia.

    Repurposing a distinctive heritage building, DesignInc Melbourne has delivered a state-of-art training facility for Victoria’s leading educators. The $16.8m fit-out reflects the prestigious professional development programs offered by the Academy and the importance of the teaching profession.

    An historic 3-level building, built in 1858 located in Melbourne’s Treasury precinct, has been transformed into a state-of-the-art, contemporary adult learning and teaching facility. The Victorian architecture and the gravitas of the Academy were inspirational. The powerful legacy of the heritage building is the foundational story of the new fitout, creating a sense of place that is both memorable and rewarding.

    The conceptual design framework imagines a creative journey linking all levels and spaces of the three-level building, symbolising interconnection between past, present, and future. The idea is united by a new linking stair inserted in an existing heritage lightwell that expresses the creative journey. As a connector of time and space, the link embodies light, creativity, nature, memories, and hope.

    DesignInc related the building’s three levels to a tree in a landscape, with the basement as the roots and earth, the centre as the trunk, and the top level likened to the canopy – outward-looking and light. That narrative is layered with biophilic elements that express nature in the building fabric.

    Taking the idea further, DesignInc imagined the three layers as a metaphor for time. The basement with its bluestone walls is quite dark and atmospheric; it represents the past. It houses the library and is a quiet place for independent research, study, and investigation.

    The centre layer represents the present. It’s the entry level of the building and has a flexible welcome lounge that is a social meeting point. The top layer represents the future; it’s where most of the teaching happens. It has more embellishment, adaptable spaces, and transparency.

    The innovative learning and teaching spaces in the Academy reflect the range of settings encountered in contemporary education, including blended face-to-face and digital learning models. Integrating adaptability and transparency is a core value of the Academy. We translated this with flexible spaces that support a range of learning modes from individual learning, small group collaboration, large group / lecture settings, to remote learning.

    DesignInc brought ‘hackable spaces’ into the mix, with a zone where teachers can push their ideas to the limits and prototype concepts in real space. The hackable space invites forward thinking and gives educators the freedom to test, showcase, research, investigate, and play in spaces that are easily reconfigured.

    Design: DesignInc
    Photography: Dianna Snape