The University of Melbourne Engineering Workshop


Melbourne VIC, Australia | View Map
Année du projet

The University of Melbourne Engineering Workshop and Student Spaces

DesignInc en tant que Architectes.

Continuing our relationship with The University of Melbourne's School of Engineering (MSE), this project involves the refurbishment of building 169, the original 1930s Engineering Workshop, and the north wing of building 173, Old Engineering.


The brief called for the addition of innovative student activity spaces enabling new research capabilities to fulfil MSE’s 2025 vision.


We established a set of key principles to guide the design to align with student-centred pedagogies. These are:

– entrepreneurship,
– collaboration,
– visibility,
– safety and security,
– flexibility,
– world-class, and
– sustainability.


The philosophy guiding our intervention in the modernist workshop building was to ‘put engineering on display’. We created an internal linkway to open-up the previously closed-off workshop space to students and passers-by.


The linkway connects the eastern garden of building 1888 to the engineering precinct – to both let in natural light and facilitate connection within the precinct.


Subtle interventions in the existing facade give way to the celebration of old and new functions inside, including a Computer-Aided Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN) and 3D metal printer.


A saw-tooth form cut from white-coated perforated metal, frames the workshop – a subtle nod to the skylight roofs of industrial architecture and to the building itself.

The gesture leads people through the space and negotiates the dramatic change in volume across the building to the main workshop.


A cantilevered folded steel stairway peels away from the saw-tooth, leading to a viewing platform that overlooks the reorganised workshop, while a frameless glass screen separates it from the linkway.


Beyond the viewing platform, the stairway connects to the entrepreneurial project team spaces on level 1 – providing a new and dynamic space to experience the industrial scale and detail.


The linkway weaves together old and new with a stripped back architectural language which reflects engineering at its core.


The key architectural concept in the north wing refurbishment of the Old Engineering building is the central spine of meeting room pods or ‘rooms within the room.’

Structural modifications were made to open-up the floor plate providing flexibility and allowing the building to continue to operate for another 100+ years.


The pods stand in isolation from the building fabric and give context to the scale of the existing building. This allows for interior expression of the large steel portals supporting the structure; a celebration of engineering.


The timber-clad pods accommodate a diverse mix of technology-rich, bookable group workspaces. Informal settings line the perimeter of the space, providing an extra layer of flexibility.


Students can choose how they study in an environment that is informal, non-hierarchical, and relaxed.


Custom carpet with a biophilic triangular pattern is integrated to define the circulation paths within the area graduating to a solid colour through the centre of the space.


The pattern is a visual cue reinforcing visual cues to zoning within the space, aiding the informal management of the high-use student space.


The floor complements a calming palette of acoustic surfaces, natural daylight, and internal plantings – all working together to create a collaborative environment that fosters the creativity and entrepreneurship the industry demands.

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