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ACU Library and Learning Commons

North Sydney Campus

Photographer: Anthony Fretwell & Natasha Mulhall

Australian Catholic University’s student facilities in North Sydney were ageing and lacked the sense of community and belonging for which the university is renowned. ACU’s brief to BigCity Design was to create a new learning hub in the location of the existing North Sydney library and adjacent teaching spaces. The refurbished environment was to be inclusive and familiar to the student community while encouraging social interaction and supporting teaching strategy.

The project site, on the lower ground floor of an existing late 20th century building, was neither inspiring to its occupants, nor engaged with its environment. As a building located within a small site adjacent to a restrictive residential zone, it offered little opportunity to create dialogue with its surrounds.

BigCity Design developed a neighbourhood concept that introduces strong yet familiar spatial elements to create a sense of community and belonging that encourages students to stay, learn, interact and relax. The design incorporates informal and formal learning, collaborative areas and social spaces that effortlessly merge into a comfortable yet highly functional environment that supports the university’s teaching strategy.

      Hear what our clients thought about the project and design process….

 During the design development stage of this project, the university expanded its brief to include the relocation of its main data centre, and introduction of a temporary Moot Court and associated facilities for its proposed new Faculty of Law. These additional requirements were seamlessly integrated into the project, without impact on programme or budget. Technology integration was key to the success of this project, and underpins the delivery of flexible learning environments that perform intuitively and effectively.

The university community is thrilled with its new student learning hub.

“While BCD has experience in a broad range of contexts, my colleagues and I have valued their perceptive understanding of the contemporary learning and amenity needs for students and staff in the current higher education context. BCD has recently successfully completed the redesign of our library space to accommodate increased student demand for flexible group and independent learning spaces, while at the same time increasing the collection requirements to include a Law collection, as well as a Moot court which doubles as a video conference facility. The result is an outstanding success…”

Professor Marea Nicholson, Associate Vice-Chancellor (Sydney), ACU