The new Automotive Centre of Excellence (ACE) in Melbourne’s Docklands accommodates a dedicated training and showcase facility for Australia’s automotive trades and manufacturing. It consists of high-bay workshop spaces, specialist workrooms, classrooms and office accommodation.
A strategy was needed to develop an appropriate civic scale for this small public building in the context of its surrounding commercial urbanscape.
We looked at the history of the Docklands to identify a gesture to allow the building to compete with its high rise neighbours – in particular the history of the ‘big shed’, evident in the adjacent railway sheds. The roof is a large, simple gable which connects ACE to other Melbourne based industrial training spaces.
The building also absorbs sources from automotive culture, and its relationships with the city; kerb signs, tyre treads, city overpasses, and the sheen of car showrooms. The interiors evoke something of the automotive predilection for contrasting the technological and mechanical with the finished and the smooth.
The main foyer with its monumental staircase acts as the key circulation pathway through the building. Visitors experience a transition from traditional technical college materiality; raw blockwork, exposed steel and concrete to contemporary applications of carbon fibre and glass projection technology.
The shed facade system incorporates automated louvres which enable the workshop spaces to be naturally ventilated. The offices and classroom spaces are cooled by an active thermal mass system. In combination with other environmental sustainable design features the building has achieved a 5-Star Green Star environmental rating.