VISION Issue 50 - Page 6

VISION 50 — UNDER THE MICROSCOPE Architecture as imitation can quickly dig itself a larger-than-life hole. Philip Johnson’s AT&T Building as an overblown Chippendale Chair cast a giant shadow on an otherwise stellar legacy. Others, including Frank Gehry’s Binocular Building in LA are literal in the extreme. For many, the Basket Building in Newark Ohio, is little more than novelty basket-case. Melbourne’s Harmer Architecture Bio Sciences Building for Monash University runs the gauntlet of mimicry. But rather than parody or ‘theme-scape’ of science fiction on steroids, or caricature, Harmer’s design is all subtlety and nuance. Located in the protected native landscape Jock Marshall Reserve, Harmer’s fan-shaped design is tightly calibrated to setting and purpose. Sparkling in the spring light, here science as art is wrapped in a ribbon of Viridian EnergyTech™ performance glass punctuated with strategically placed circular windows – eye-pieces to a magnified world. The building forms a new gateway to the JMR Reserve from College Walk, which accesses the Monash Halls of Residence. The main internal space is a laboratory for collaborative environmental study into the science of plants and animals. The laboratory collaborative learning area is divisible into two spaces each for 52 students and the external balcony/deck provides a long bench for sorting and washing of samples collected in field-work. The eyepiece entry tube forms the gateway to the reserve and stimulates curiosity in visitors to discover what can be investigated in this unique natural environment. PROJECT Monash University Biological Sciences Laboratory, Victoria ARCHITECT Harmer Architecture PRINCIPAL GLAZING Viridian EnergyTech™ Clear TEXT, IMAGES & FILM Peter & Jenny Hyatt