The Piazza Dell’Ufficio is a re-imagining of Caroline Chisholm College`s Administration & student welfare services.
objective was to create a space, which reduced the visual barriers & encouraged staff & student interactions. Clad economically in cardboard tubes, the space is conceptualized as a central public Piazza.
Winner: Small workspace interior of the year 2019 and Winner: Interior Project of the Year 2019. The Piazza Dell’Ufficio is a re-imagining of the former Caroline Chisholm College’s executive administration offices.
The spaces are primarily used by staff, the accounts department and student welfare, and cater for various size staff and student meetings. Before the renovation, the offices used to be comprised of small, disproportionate spaces and a meeting room with no natural light. Branch Studio Architects created an environment with more favourable working conditions, which reduced the visual barriers between staff and student interactions.
Judges comments: “This aesthetically pleasing space creates a break-out space for busy school life. There is a great balance between contemporary, recyclable and affordable materials and colours, creating a warm and calming environment that is suitable for student welfare,” said the judges.
Designer:Branch Studio Architects
The ufficio in question refers to the administration and student welfare functions at Caroline Chisholm Catholic College in Braybrook, around twelve kilometres to the west of Melbourne’s CBD. A suburban secondary school might seem an unlikely site for such a finely detailed architectural intervention, but it is just the latest in a string of small- to medium-scale projects Branch Studio Architects has undertaken at the school.
As well as facilitating an inventive design, the cardboard tubes fulfilled the practice’s sustainability criterion – sturdy, cheap and compostable, they create an almost modular structure where individual elements can be disassembled and replaced if they become damaged. In situ, they add an unexpected texture and permit rippling plays of light that escape from the narrow gaps between each tube.
The heart of the zone is the open piazza, axial lines tracing across its floor. At the centre is the “clocktower” – two curving banquettes, shielded by cardboard tubes with a central pedestal housing an oversized and sculptural clock. Above, a cylindrical element descends from the ceiling, with concealed neon lights enhancing its geometry. It is perhaps the best example of how Branch Studio Architects’ approach has reimagined this space – where once there was a warren of small, unwelcoming places, there is now an open and democratic piazza, where students in need might seek assistance and connect with staff.
While the projects vary in their scale and design, they are characterized by the practice’s material invention – from rope and metal screening to concrete and translucent polycarbonate. In Piazza Dell’Ufficio, the exploration of materiality takes the form of cardboard tubes, stretching from floor to ceiling in geometric curves. They appear, too, as a balustrade for the stairs, their chamfered edges revealing their hollow interiors.
The Piazza Dell’Ufficio is a re-imagining of the former Caroline Chisholm College`s Executive Administration offices. The spaces are to be primarily used by school hierarchy staff, accounts department, student welfare and cater for various size staff and student meetings. Formally the existing space was a dark rabbit-warren of small disproportional office spaces and a meeting room with very little to no natural light. Highly-inefficient and not susceptible to any form of good or flexible working environment, the mostly blue painted, late 1970`s, broken, cream venetian blind screened block provided little to no humanistic interaction for its users.
pedagogical objective was to create a space, which reduced the visual barriers between staff & student interactions. A space where day-to-day Administration practices could occur but as the space also caters for student welfare – students could feel comfortable meeting up with a staff member and have a chat. Given this pedagogical objective, we derived the Idea of rationalising the space as a central public Piazza linked by two primary monuments to form the basis of the project. The two primary monuments being – 1. Clock Tower and 2. Public Forum.
The central public plaza is a destination/primary meeting point for student and staff interaction. It also acts as a forum for the school principal and various other hierarchy staff to address staff in numbers. The working office spaces become the ancillary ‘buildings’ off the primary Piazza. The formal composition of the space creates a diversity of working spaces. These cater for individual offices, shared office spaces, various meeting areas and hot-desk working environments.
Purposeful visual cohesion is created throughout using a very cost effective partition methodology of Cardboard tubes [$2.50 each], to sculpt the interior spaces. The tubes both individually and in mass are used to create a continuous visual curve & warmth to soften the interior spaces throughout. Light is an important element of the project. The control of light creates an extension of the internal formal curvature. The careful control of light also creates visual and contextual narrative referencing the subdued light cast underneath the porticos and formal archways used in 18th century classical and neoclassical architecture. Formally a profiled dropped ceiling extends the curvature of the space in section and creates more intimate spaces at primary ‘meeting’ points – where dome-like Coffers occur in the Clock Tower & Public Forum.Classically derived archways also create a formal entry into the space from an existing school corridor and also into the three office wings from the primary Piazza. Formal lines in the floor finish create visual axial links between the primary ‘Clock Tower’ and Public Forum/ Sculpture space. Similarly, lineages in the floor treatment are made between entry, meeting and office spaces.
Glass-fronted arched doors lead off to a series of boardrooms, communal work areas and private offices for individual members of staff.
Dropped ceilings have been erected throughout to give spaces a more intimate feel, while sweeping and diagonal lines have also been marked into the floor to create “axial links” between the office’s different rooms
Walls and ceilings
Walls and ceilings painted in Dulux ‘White on White.’ Walls and partitions made from 5-mm-thick cardboard tubes. Ravine range laminate in natural oak from Polytec.
Camaro vinyl flooring in ‘Burnished Concrete’ and ‘Glacier Slate’ from Polyflor.
Windows and doors
Capral 400 Series aluminium framing in black powdercoat.
Mega Bulb SR2 feature pendant and Cache Pendant XL, both from Great Dane.
Seats upholstered in Warwick Fabrics Eastwood leather in ‘Dove.’ Primo KS-192 meeting room chair from K Five. Thinking Works table with custom top. Tati side table from Great Dane. Slit table from Cult.
4th Dimension concrete clock by 22 Studio.
This isn’t the first time that Branch Studio Architects has completed an education-focused project – back in 2016 the practice updated a school in western Melbourne to feature a weathering steel bridge, which doubles-up as an art gallery for students.
Piazza Dell’Ufficio is shortlisted in the small workspace interior category of the 2019 Dezeen Awards. It will compete against projects like Ya Vsesvit, a monochromatic co-working space in Ukraine and Scandinavian Spaceship, a colourful office in Oslo with futuristic decor details.
cource: australianinteriordesignawards _ dezeen _ archdaily _ dezeen _ architectureau
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