Lyons was appointed to develop the new Automotive Centre of Excellence (ACE) as a part of Kangan Batman Institute major campuses. Located in Docklands, Melbourne, the building was developed to provide a dedicated training and showcase facility for automotive trades and manufacturing in Australia. The project was started in 2006 and built on a 5,000-square-meter lot. The building houses specialist workrooms, workshop spaces, office accommodation, and classrooms.
The designing team wanted to create an appropriate civic scale. However, a particular strategy was needed in order to not disturb the surrounding commercial urbanscape.
To come up with the right strategy, Lyons paid attention to the history of Docklands to find out a gesture that would allow the building to standout around its high rise neighborhood. Through history, they found the ‘big shed’ as seen in the adjacent railway sheds. The roof is a simple yet large gable that connects ACE to other industrial training spaces in Melbourne.
The building is also inspired by other automotive culture and its relationships with the city, such as city overpasses, kerb signs, the sheen of car showrooms, and tire treads. Moreover, the interior brings out a strong automotive vibe through the contrast of technological and mechanical with the smooth and finished.
There’s also the shed façade system that integrates automated louvers. It allows the workshop space to be naturally ventilated.
An active thermal mass system is used to cool the classrooms and office spaces. Due to the building’s environmentally friendly and sustainable design, it was awarded a 5-Star Green Star environmental rating.
Inside, there’s monumental staircase set on the main foyer. The staircase functions as the key circulation pathway through the building.
Upon entering the building, visitors will experience a transition from traditional technical college materiality used raw blockwork, concrete, and exposed steel to contemporary applications of glass projection technology and carbon fiber.