Monash Robotics Lab is a highly resolved project that demonstrates the striking balance between utility and comfort exceptionally well. The jury applauded its symbiotic relationship with the architecture, characterized by a softness and seamlessness, which strikingly blurs the boundary between interior and exterior. It stands out as an inviting space within a typology that has a heavy functional load, balancing challenging programmatic requirements with a subtle design approach that doesn’t overwhelm.
The materials are robust and durable, but also warm and unexpected, and the jury appreciated the fact the robots are considered equal to human inhabitants, which is the way of the future and therefore extremely innovative. Trying to get a robotics lab to feel like a space people would want to spend time in is an achievement. This project exemplifies a highly elegant outcome that would be a good place to work in.
The Monash Robotics Lab transforms the ground floor of an existing three-storey 1960s campus building, creating a robust working space for interdisciplinary robotic collaboration. Shared tool rooms and task-based zoning draw researchers together, and larger building-scale gestures increase transparency into the interior, fulfilling the civic ambitions of the brief.
The approach to colour, lighting and materials throughout this project is a negotiation between utility and comfort. Natural materials and tones are prioritized throughout to provide pleasant spaces to spend the day and an ideal canvas for innovation. The solid timber tabletops and wood-wool acoustic wall cladding are examples of honest materials that provide visual and acoustic comfort, aging well with the daily wear and tear of an engineering workshop.
Built on the land of the Bunurong people of the Kulin Nation
Design practice — Studio Bright
Project team — Melissa Bright, Rob McIntyre, Ryan de Winnaar, Annie Suratt,
Jaxon Webb, Robert Hillman, Pei She Lee, Amy Tung
For more coverage, read Michael McLeod’s review of Monash Robotics Lab.
The Australian Interior Design Awards are presented by the Design Institute of Australia and Artichoke magazine. For more images of this project, see the Australian Interior Design Awards gallery.