ARM and Architectus worked with the University of Melbourne, Faculty of Arts to tailor the building for object-based learning. The learning spaces are customised for exhibiting items from the University’s cultural collections.
Arts West’s distinctive façade involves ground-breaking and extremely innovative use of steel. The façade features images of selected objects from the University’s 23 cultural collections. Hence, the façade is both a passive solar-control element and an architectural manifestation of the Faculty of Arts’ pedagogical aspirations.
Galvanizing for the steel frames on the outer skin of the façade was chosen for a variety of reasons. The fins on the façade serve two purposes – to provide sun shading to the all glass curtain wall behind and to house images of objects from the Cultural Collections. The images are ‘pressed’ into the façade and reveal themselves to viewers at different times of the day and from different viewpoints. The architects say – ‘Galvanizing is of course a wonderful way to protect steelwork, but we also liked mottled and crystalline effects that galvanizing provides. It will change over time, from a bright reflective material to a dull grey. Galvanizing provided the façade with the kind of raw surface that we were after. We liked the inconsistencies that batch galvanizing of 8mm steel gave us.’