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Quick Facts

Location:

Melbourne, VIC

Architect:

McIldowie Partners

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Trinity College Gateway Building by McIldowie Partners

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In brick and glass, the Gateway Building is providing a visual and functional pathway from Trinity College to University of Melbourne.

The Gateway Building claims its place on Tin Alley, a historic circulation path between Trinity College and University of Melbourne. Where formerly a perimeter security fence provided a harsh boundary between the two institutions, now this modern brick and glass building provides an inviting and accessible gateway. And given the building is the venue for Trinity College’s Foundation Studies program, which provides international students with an academic pathway to the university, its location, form and openness is fitting.

McIldowie Partners designed the Gateway Building, which opened in March 2017, and it is a physical expression of the architecture firm’s ambition: “to interpret and make visions and values tangible in a building.” Thus, in brick and glass with monumentality of form, it visually expresses the strength and long-standing connection of the two institutions and serves as a gateway between them.

“The Gateway Building seamlessly reflects Melbourne’s history in brick and bluestone masonry whilst being contemporary and innovative in its own right,“ says Steven McIldowie, Director of McIldowie Partners. “Where traditionally, education buildings look inwards, we aimed to showcase Trinity College to the pedestrian flow linking the College and the University.”

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Trinity College was established in 1872 and became affiliated with University of Melbourne in 1876. The northern end of the College campus has cloistered residential buildings built in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries and the Gateway Building sits along its southern boundary. Its form is bold and contemporary, however it is sympathetic to the Victorian buildings as well as the modern ones in close proximity. “The upper levels are an intricate composition of textured brick and dark glazing that create an intriguing façade in a modern interpretation of the surrounding Victorian architecture,” McIldowie describes.

The building’s strong geometric forms and brick façades have a sense of solidity. However, serving as the pathway between the College and University, glazing is used to break down the barriers of the brick exterior walls offering a clear view into and through the building. The glass plinth, incisions and volumes imbue the Gateway Building with lightness and transparency and provide open views of the warm and welcoming timber-clad interior; and the clear-glazed atrium cuts through the building creating a functional and visual link connecting the University entry to the building with the axis to the College Chapel.

The brick façades and bluestone plinth provide a backdrop to this glazing as well as contrasting texture to the glass and the timber interior. Formed with Brickworks’ Daniel Robertson Hawthorn bricks in London Blend, which has deep black and coffee brown tones, the façades have a timeless character derived from the blended heritage of the original handmade English bricks.

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“Brick is the defining material of the Tin Alley boundary of the University, and the scale and texture of the Gateway Building is consistent with their architectural language,” says McIldowie. “We wanted a neutral colour palette that was harmonious with the glazing and bluestone, and after some research we felt Daniel Robertson Hawthorn bricks best reflected the colour and texture of the buildings in the College’s heritage precincts.”

The bricks have been laid to create both smooth and rough façades. Traditional stretcher bond is used along the larger expanses, while hand-broken bricks create accent surfaces on the façades that clad the gallery, delineating the programmatic shift away from teaching and learning spaces. “The traditional stretcher bond façades provide a backdrop for the incisions of glass and timber auditorium. The cut bricks disrupt this logic by serving as a feature that provides an ever-changing backdrop as the sun creates shadows at different times of the day,” McIldowie says.

Inside, the building accommodates a 300-seat state-of-the-art lecture theatre, 25 tutorial rooms, five drama studios, music rooms and a physics lab. There is a new art gallery for the College’s collections and archives, and the building also provides student amenity spaces for a further 300 College residents and 50 theological students. The restrained colour palette and faceted timber panelling is warm and calming and much of the materials were selected for their acoustic integrity.

Using brick, glass and timber, McIldowie Partners has transformed the values and vision of the Foundation Studies program into physical form, and the Gateway Building now provides a visual and functional pathway from Trinity College to Melbourne University.

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