Hub Central - a space revolution
New buildings, facilities and student spaces are transforming the University's learning environment and providing world-class infrastructure for research.
The barren void of Hughes Plaza is gone. In its place is a three-level student space called Hub Central which hums with student activity at all hours of the day and night.
Hub Central is the University of Adelaide's revolutionary new $42m learning hub for students, officially opened in October by Federal Tertiary Education Minister, Senator the Hon. Christopher Evans.
Hub Central is the new meeting place and "first port of call" for students. It brings together informal learning and social spaces with student information services and food and service retail outlets. It merges seamlessly with the Barr Smith Library and provides new connections through to lecture theatres and across campus.
"A few years ago we embarked upon our $400m capital works program to provide new world-class facilities for research and teaching on our campuses," says Paul Duldig, Vice-President (Services and Resources). "Uppermost in our planning priorities across these projects was the provision of great facilities for our students - facilities that would meet the changed needs of higher education students today that are vastly different from campus life 20 years ago or even five years ago.
"We had a vision of providing the best on-campus experience for our students. This space, Hub Central, is at the heart of that vision and is, appropriately, at the heart of the campus. Here we've turned what was a barren place - Hughes Plaza - into the most dynamic learning space in this country."
Creating Hub Central involved students and staff working together with more than 9000 hours of student involvement in both the design and overall function of the space.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Academic) Professor Pascale Quester says Hub Central is a landmark step in the journey of transforming the student experience at the University of Adelaide.
"Most importantly, through this project we have developed the University's relationship with our students using a collaborative process," Professor Quester says.
"This is a learning space developed with students for students and it's an ever-evolving space that will remain current and in touch with the needs and wants of students of today and in the future."
Hub Central covers 10,500m2 over three levels and facilities include: 11 project rooms, 11 project booths, student lounges with moveable furniture, two information service areas, a student kitchen, two Skype booths and a news bench, two training rooms, over 200 new computers, total wireless connectivity, print stations, lockers, the Maths Learning Centre, the Writing Centre, food outlets and a convenience store and a post office will soon open.
"Students want flexible areas for informal learning and group study, areas for social interaction, access at all hours to the latest technology and resources, and easy access to both face-to-face and online services and support," says Mr Duldig. "They want informality, a place where they can heat their leftovers, just hang out or catch up with friends both here and globally via Skype."
Hub Central has been built with the support of the Federal Government's Better Universities Renewal Funding ($15.5m) and the Teaching and Learning Capital Fund ($1.5m). The design was by architectural firm Hassell and the construction by Baulderstone.
Hub Central is the latest of the University's major capital projects, following closely behind the completion of the $100m environmentally sustainable building Innova21.
Officially opened in March by the Minister for Defence, the Honourable Stephen Smith, Innova21 received Australia's first 6 Star Green Star rating for an education building.
The 11,000-square metre, nine-level, state-of-the-art building houses staff and students from the Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences.
It caters for the significant growth in student numbers in the Faculty and, again, places a strong emphasis on student facilities with plenty of communal areas and group study space, on top of administrative and staff facilities, a cafe, student computer labs with round-the-clock access, and an exhibition space.
The outstanding building was designed by DesignInc and built by Hindmarsh. The building's environmental performance is monitored through a digital Building Management System and it has a range of environmental features from thermal chimneys, and under-floor hydronic cooling and fresh air ventilation through to an inflated roof membrane over the exhibition space which provides insulation and light penetration at the same time.
Adjacent to Innova21 is the latest major building project - a new seven-level science and research building. This will house the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS) as well as a 420-seat lecture theatre and state-of-the-art teaching and research laboratories, plus additional student and staff space.
Designed by BVN Architecture and Hames Sharley and being built by Baulderstone, the building will be completed in Semester One, 2013.
"These projects are major investments for the University but they are essential," says Mr Duldig. "To provide a learning environment that meets the needs of students today and in the future, to attract the best researchers and enable them to compete globally, we need to provide the best infrastructure we can." ■
Story by Robyn Mills