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In focus: Sylvia Walton Building @ La Trobe University

Initially dubbed the La Trobe Melbourne Building Project, the now Sylvia Walton Building at La Trobe University's Bundoora campus stands as a beacon for eclectic design and cutting edge student facilities. Having been completed early in the year, the complex is named after former Chancellor of La Trobe University, Dr Sylvia Walton AO.

Construction commenced during 2012 and upon completion the facility opened its doors during April, providing a hub for prospective international and domestic students to expedite their tertiary studies. According to La Trobe University "The exciting new 7,500 square metre building has been designed by Lyons Architects and includes a range of teaching, collaborative, administrative and office spaces which will house both La Trobe Melbourne and also La Trobe International."

Sylvia Walton Building

Project highlights

  • 6 levels with 7,500 sq.m of available space
  • Project budget of $45 million, internally funded and completed under budget
  • Teaching, collaborative, break out spaces, administrative and office space included
  • Non-potable water drawn from adjoining moat, roof-harvesting system included
  • Targeted 5 Star Green Star rating

Lyons to a T

The design is quintessential Lyons; edgy, challenging, uncomfortable and altogether unusual! The architecture firm employed 200 precast panels to constitute an almost herringbone facade pattern, punctuated by large, irregularly shaped ans sized glazed voids.

Avoiding a darker palette typical of many contemporary Melbourne edifices, Sylvia Walton Building's light precast facade is accentuated by Sandune, Wattle, Terracotta and Cinnamon aluminium trim. Whilst discerning itself with an 'outrageous' facade relative to its dated neighbouring buildings, the use of similar colours still provides a sympathetic interface of sorts with the existing cream brick Education and Humanities wings. This is further aided by a new landscaped area tying Sylvia Walton Building in with its neighbours.

The firm designs projects which are responsive to and expressive of a contemporary experience of local and global culture - a world of ideas, new media, technologies and rapidly changing urbanism. Lyons work is committed to and interested in the history and culture of ideas and how ideas can be used to create meaningful contemporary architecture.

Lyons: What We Do

Take from that what you will but I for one believe Lyons have indeed created meaningful contemporary architecture via the Sylvia Walton Building.

The La Trobe University Institute for Molecular Science at dusk. Images © Lyons

The La Trobe - Lyons collaboration

Not for the first time I mention the Lyons legacy; the firm has produced a rich vein of unique and intriguing projects in recent years that command attention. Sylvia Walton Building is not the only example of Lyons work at La Trobe University's Bundoora campus.

Completed late summer, the La Trobe University Institute for Molecular Science complex seen above is another stand out Lyons creation. Disciplines such as biochemistry, chemistry and genetics collaborate with one another and guide students within the six level complex that concerns itself with three areas - research, teaching and learning.

Both are highly impressive seen in the flesh, but for now enjoy the set of images below highlighting La Trobe University's newest addition, Sylvia Walton Building.

Project team

  • Briefing Architect: Spowers
  • Quantity Surveyor: WT Partnership
  • Architect: Lyons
  • Service & ESD: Norman Disney Young
  • Structural & Civil: Bonacci
  • Landscaping: Outlines
  • Hydraulics: C.J. Arms
  • Building Surveyor: PLP Building Surveyors & Consultants
  • Acoustics: AECOM
  • Contractor: Kane Constructions
The grand entrance opposite Moat Theatre
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Development & Planning

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 12:00
The swirl of development activity in Footscray has found another gear as new projects are submitted for approval, or are on the verge of beginning construction. Two separate planning applications have been advertised by Maribyrnong City Council; their subsequent addition to the Urban Melbourne Project Database has seen the overall number of apartment developments within Footscray in development swell to 40.

Policy, Culture & Opinion

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 12:00
The marriage of old and new can be a difficult process, particularly when the existing structure has intrinsic heritage value. In previous times Fitzroy's 237 Napier Street served as the home of furniture manufacturer C.F. Rojo and Sons. Taking root during 1887, Christobel Rojo oversaw operations though over time the site would become home to furniture manufacturer Thonet.

Visual Melbourne

Friday, August 25, 2017 - 07:00
The former site of John Batman's home, Batman's Hill is entering the final stages of its redevelopment. Collins Square's final tower has begun its skyward ascent, as has Lendlease's Melbourne Quarter Commercial and Residential precinct already. Melbourne Quarter's first stage is at construction and involves a new 12-storey home for consultancy firm Arup along with a skypark.

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Transport & Design

Friday, December 15, 2017 - 11:00
Infrastructure Victoria unveiled a new round of research into its larger programme of work dealing with managing transport demand. The authority contracted Arup and KPMG to produce the Melbourne Activity Based Model (MABM) and while it is new, it is considered fit for purpose in the strategic context.

Sustainability & Environment

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 12:00
Cbus Property's office development for Medibank at 720 Bourke Street in Docklands recently became the first Australian existing property to receive a WELL Certification, Gold Shell and Core rating. The WELL rating goes beyond sustainable building features with a greater focus on the health and well-being of a building's occupants.