Project in Detail
World Architecture Festival 2010 - Category Commendation
The Academy’s timber stairs - the entry point
Anson Smart - Anson Smart Photography
The Academy sets a new standard for corporate education globally. It has done so through the creation of an immersive environment that engages all the senses to enhance learning.
The design team in conjunction with responsive environment artists and sonic specialists, worked collaboratively over 18 months with NAB to create The Academy. The Academy is a 3200m2 publicly accessible space, open to NAB’s people and the community. It can be used by employees from across the organisation to collaborate, converge, learn and connect – either by visiting the site to attend programs and business events, or through virtual learning technologies to participate remotely. The Academy symbolizes NAB’s belief in the potential of its employees and the communities they engage with. It has been designed to focus on experiential learning with the intent to transform how learning in the NAB is delivered and experienced.
The Academy also establishes a new model for the corporate sector in fulfilling their social responsibility aspirations. It has a public interface allowing visitors to catch glimpses into the hive of activity as well as experience the space for themselves when it is used for public forums, events and community mentorship programs. Edward de Bono has held a learning session at The Academy. Over 30,000 people have attended business or learning events at The Academy since opening in July 2009.
NAB required the design of The Academy to provide the following:
An interactive environment of wonder, learning and the promise of distinctly differentiated learning experiences;
Areas that invite and encourage exploration, development and innovation;
A place where minds and emotions can be engaged, perceptions challenged and knowledge, mindfulness and wisdom expanded;
Large and spacious training rooms that encourage use of ‘right brain’;
Flexible and adaptive spaces; and
Demonstration of advanced and innovative technology.
The physical space was to comprise 10 training zones; syndicate / breakout areas; a reception; a touchdown space; storage room; catering / kitchen area connected and integrated by a journey through the atrium area which was to create a unique, distinctive, engaging and interactive environment of sight, sound and feelings that engage all senses. Consequently, the design intent was to create ‘experiences’ not just spaces. All spaces offer different types of experiences founded on the underlying principle of ‘TRANSFORMATION’.
The journey starts with the timber stair. Designed to slow the visitor down and open their mind, it physically cocoons you, is warm to touch and the specially created soundscape responds to your rhythm through sensors. As participants move up the stairs towards The Academy, they note a transformation from the core surrounds to something that is entirely different.
In keeping with the philosophy of Transformation, self discovery is encouraged, as one enters into the Academy through reception and navigates their way between the timber blades situated throughout the atrium space. Made of plywood, raw, white or black, the blades act as signage. They encourage one to find their own pathways through the space, to take on the journey of self discovery. Participants encounter opportunities to travel directly to their destination or to explore and journey through the blades and observe, listen to and touch the interactive environment around them.
The training rooms are where learning becomes a reality. These unique learning spaces tune in to all senses - energy zones that affect the rhythm of the human body. Spaces are supported by leading edge technology such as the 18 metre long panoramic simulation walls. At the same time their design understands the ability to brainstorm and mind map on a wall and share your stories is of equal importance.
A key principal of the Academy and the space is to encourage congregation, relationships, personal interaction and dialogue. This has been achieved through a communal area where people are brought together through replenishment. All participants, no matter what position they hold in the company, join together on large tables for meals, gather at the coffee cart and refill drink bottles at the atrium fountain. Even the unisex toilet’s large washbasin encourages interaction.
Exceptional design features include the following:
Engagement of all senses to encourage learning: The Academy has been designed to engage all the senses creating a fully immersive environment. For example, all training rooms have a specially created ‘dial a mood’ soundscape allowing facilitators to use music to create different levels of energy and moods.
Selection of materials that enhances right brain activation: Careful consideration has been given to the material and detailing of the training rooms so that furnishings, decorations, colours etc, deliver an experiential environment that enhances right brain activation. Materiality of the 10 primary training spaces relates to the concept and designated learning style for the training rooms:
• Self Analysis and Focused Based Learning
o Lodge – Timber
o Zen – Light timber, bronze metal screens.
o Camp – Plywood
• Technology, Logistics, Strategy Based Learning
o Vault – Black mesh screens
o Spy 1 – White mesh
o Spy 2 – White mesh
• Role Play, Brainstorming, Team Development
o Create – White milk crates
o White – White milk crates
o Scribble – Xanita Board, plywood
o Stage – Black painted plywood, curtains, raw ply floor
Innovative use of technology: Technology has been used innovatively in the design to enable exploration, creativity and ultimately learning. This is perhaps best demonstrated through the interactive experience termed the ‘Parallel Wilderness’ which has been created through the use of projection and sound. It is a virtual eco-system which co-exists in the atrium space. The Parallel Wilderness grows and changes with the rhythm and energy of The Academy. The content is programmed to be self generating. The blades scattered throughout the atrium act as portals into the Parallel Wilderness, holding speakers for soundscapes.
Each training room is also equipped with technology that enables interaction with participants (smartboards); connectivity to remote participants (in other office based locations or through video conferencing via their PCs); projections of environments for learning simulations / role plays (immersion); and engages sight and sound (video and audio capabilities).
Mr Peter Bonfig
Ms Kate Grenville
Client / Developer
Ms Maria Tassone
National Australia Bank
03 8634 4511
Ms Imogene Tudor
Mr Joe Danese
Ms Emma Kerr
Ms Megan Ronnfeldt
United Group Limited
Project Construction and Management
Bovis Lend Lease
Ms Narelle Bentley
Responsive Environment Artists
Sonic Branding & Interactive Sound Experiences
United States of America
Sonic Branding & Interactive Sound Experiences
The Amber Theatre
Robert Bird and Associates
Technology Installation Management