Located on Swanson Street, Melbourne, the Design Hub, owned by Australian public research university, stands out from the surrounding buildings with its sequin-like glass facade, constructed with over 17,000 glass discs supported by galvanized steel frames. All of which cover the 9-storey building, and give it that distinctive look. Any glass company, like Ecotech Glass, would be proud to have worked on the building’s outer layering.
Of course, its facade is more than just that. What’s the old saying? ‘Never judge a book by its cover’? The Design Hub is a very good example of that saying. More than a fancy headquarters for some of the RMIT’s faculty, it is also the case study for the researchers that reside in it. The distinctive facade of the building is actually a cleverly designed aspect of its construction, aimed at ensuring the building could easily adapt to any developments in technology, without making any noticeable alterations to the facade at all.
The discs that compromise the facade, are in fact high performance laminates, toughened for safety, and fitted into their positions via aluminium axels held up by galvanized steel frames. Controlled by the building’s computer automation system, the discs, with their recently installed photovoltaic solar cells, will follow the sun’s lighting to ensure maximum natural lightning within the building and generate power. Additionally, the design of the facade gives it the potential to function as a giant digital billboard.
The building’s iconic facade, deceptively simplistic in its appearance and function, marvellously hide the fact that the building is actually the case study for its inhabitants, who use it to test out the latest developments in glass related technology, something that would, no doubt, be of interest for a company like Ecotech Glass.
The Design Hub is basically an experiment for its researchers, veiled with a simple, sequin-like facade that hides the fact that it is at the forefront of glass technology research, its iconic glass discs housing important developments in the business, and causing the building to be a celebrated project, with tributes like a section of the building permanently on display in the Architectural Glass Collection, found at the Victoria and Albert Museum all the way in London.