Located in Queensland, Australia, CRAB Studio's newly completed Abedian School of Architecture is one of those rare projects that combines simple design strategies in a sophisticated intricate form. In 2011, London-based architects Sir Peter Cook and Gavin Robotham were chosen to build the school on a campus originally built by Arata Isozaki in the 1980s. The new structure is comprised of beautiful curves and large floor-to-ceiling glass windows surrounded by delicate multicolored pillars, which add an air of whimsy to the building's purpose of fostering architectural inspiration.
Built on a hilltop, the Abedian building varies between two and three levels and contains a floating mezzanine, a spiral stair case and an internal walkway. For climate control on the structure’s extended, loft-like interior, the architects focused on combating the hot and humid climate by creating a series of “fan-like roofs and slits” that create an energy-efficient building envelope. The curvaceous nature of the exterior continues throughout the building’s expansive interior. By strategically using large asymmetrical “panels” to manipulate the light source, the interior is sheltered from sun glare and overheating, while simultaneously using optimal levels of natural light to illuminate the interior’s many alcoves.
As experienced teachers of architecture, the CRAB Studio architects wanted the design to convey a “sense of theater” in order to provide an inviting and inspirational environment for the students. Brightly-colored flexible furniture and open communal spaces follow the current community workplace trends seen in certain large tech companies and small start-ups. The welcoming communal areas encourage non-academic interactions as well as a variety of diverse student activities. Creating a non-restrictive and open space was paramount for the architects to generate a strong sense of uninhibited creativity often ignored in design schools of the past, “We created a very ambient building, where the individual can really identify with the nature of his or her activity – thus the studio pads, scoops, decks and corners – though based on a clear hierarchy and system – have significant shifts of direction or variations of size.”
Photos © Peter Bennetts and Rix Ryan Photography