The Ecosciences Precinct in Brisbane, Australia, brings together 1,000 scientists from four separate agencies and several different scientific disciplines in a single, collaborative research environment. Workgroups from various agencies are clustered together at Ecosciences based on the research themes of marine/estuarine science, plant and insect production/bio-security sciences and terrestrial science. This co-location of scientific agencies ‘without walls’ is a major innovation, shedding spatial and operational barriers to optimise collaboration, knowledge exchange and sharing.
Specialised facilities and support activities are centrally managed and located for economies of scale and efficiency of use. Shared facilities include greenhouses, controlled environment rooms, stores, sample processing areas, glassware and media preparation, ICT and electron microscopy.
The Precinct is broken up into three zones – office, laboratory and support – accommodating varying group sizes and functions in a generic, flexible and adaptable configuration that is designed to accommodate change over time. Stimulating, open and transparent research spaces form an ideal environment for creative professionals who demand not only state-of-the-art workplace facilities but also urban amenity and diversity of activity in a safe, vibrant setting.
As Ecosciences is located in the subtropical region of Australia, one of the major challenges of the project was filtering the harsh sunlight. The solution was to envelope the building in a veil of perforated aluminium sun-screen, protecting the laboratory and courtyard spaces while establishing the external aesthetic of articulated and perforated skin.
HASSELL led a highly consultative briefing process through all project phases engaging scientists across agency boundaries to facilitate the collaborative outcome. This process enabled many scientists to meet each other for the first time. Although they had been working in the same region on similar projects, they had not previously been aware of each other’s work. New scientific relationships were initiated following the collaborative planning and design process even before the building was occupied.