Cutting-edge healthcare training centre opening at Bendigo TAFE

Monday, 26 February, 2018

Bki student hub sketch colour

Launching in time for the 2018 academic year, state-of-the-art pedagogy and architecture combine to form the new Bendigo TAFE Health and Community Centre of Excellence.

With Bendigo’s population forecast to expand by a third by 2031, the $17.7 million project — funded by the Victorian Government — has been designed to help students build the skills required to address the high demand for qualified hospital, aged-care, home care and community services personnel in the Greater Bendigo region.

Created by architectural firm ClarkeHopkinsClarke (CHC), the design vision focused on opening the existing building up to the community and celebrating the learning within, as well as providing advanced educational facilities including simulation labs that allow students to experience what it’s like to work in a hospital ward.

“This has been an exceptional project because it brings together new and innovative approaches to pedagogy, health care and technology,” said CHC partner Justin Littlefield.

“The project utilises ClarkeHopkinsClarke’s expertise in both health care and education to create a vibrant, community-focused sense of place for Bendigo TAFE. It’s a 21st-century educational facility that integrates cutting-edge technology, connectivity and flexibility to prepare the students of tomorrow to work in the healthcare industry, a sector where medical advances mean service delivery is always changing.”

CHC partner Justin Littlefield.

ClarkeHopkinsClarke’s design for the new facility was inspired by three conceptual pillars: being transparent, healthy and connected.

The first pillar is literal as well as metaphorical. The centre is located in an existing L-shaped, three-storey brick building at the city campus which has had its life extended through this transformative project. The heavy masonry appearance has been reimagined, with much of the existing brickwork replaced by a high-performance, double-glazed glass facade to enhance natural light, which will in turn aid productivity and wellbeing for students, lecturers, staff and visitors.

“Our vision was to transform the campus into an active, vibrant place that prioritises the learner and creates an open and welcoming street interface for the Bendigo community. Located on a prominent corner, the building will become a beacon of change for the campus, with all the creative ideas and learning occurring within the building being visible from the outside,” Littlefield said.

Littlefield reflects on the importance of sustainable design in supporting all three pillars, especially health and connectedness.

“A critical component of achieving a healthy building is providing an engaging, inspiring and environmentally sustainable place to learn and to work, one with abundant natural light, ventilation and connections to the outdoors,” he said.

“Environmentally sustainable design is always an important consideration within our design process, but was especially key in the development of a healthcare-focused centre of excellence. The project has allowed us to transform the existing building, reconfiguring the internal environment to really maximise the usability of spaces. The building has literally been recycled!”

Other environmentally conscious initiatives include reinsulation for improved thermal performance; the use of sustainably sourced timber and steel; the specification of motion- and daylight-sensing LED lighting; low-emission paints, joinery and adhesives; and water-saving, low-flow toilets and tapware.

The design also focuses on activating the lower level with opportunities for outdoor presentation spaces and collaboration zones that can be used for student activities.

“Celebrating that theme of connectivity, we wanted to create a place that promotes the use of a central courtyard as a student and community space where people want to congregate and share ideas,” Littlefield said.

An appropriately cellular theme is reflected in the internal planning, landscape, interior design and wayfinding, one inspired by the essence of the courses to be offered in the centre and reflecting the adaptable, future-focused and connected characteristics of the centre.

“The cellular theme shapes a unique identity for the centre, instilling pride of place for teachers, learners and the community alike, and providing free-flowing pathways and visual cues that define the users’ journey,” said Littlefield.

The new centre will also boast adaptable learning spaces including mobile AV terminals and learning environments with operable walls, enabling spaces to be adjusted depending on class sizes and changing course needs over time. The design provides for these dynamic and interactive collaborative spaces alongside more secluded personal study zones.

Bendigo TAFE CEO Trevor Schwenke said the new facilities will transform the delivery of healthcare education in the region.

Bendigo TAFE CEO Trevor Schwenke.

“The current building and learning environment at the Bendigo TAFE city campus was outdated and difficult to navigate. ClarkeHopkinsClarke’s expertise and health industry knowledge has been invaluable in designing a centre that will enrich our vocational training delivery and greatly improve the student experience at Bendigo TAFE,” Schwenke said.

In line with the TAFE’s approach to education and training, the centre has been designed to bring students and employers together to address the employment and training needs of local industry.

“Close collaboration and consultation with industry will be the key to the success of Bendigo TAFE’s new Health and Community Centre of Excellence. Our graduates will be work ready because their training is aligned to industry needs,” Schwenke said.

The Health and Community Centre of Excellence will deliver courses to those studying community services and health care, such as nursing, dental assistance, community services, and early childhood education and care. Four new health and community courses are also being introduced by Bendigo TAFE as part of the centre’s opening, with more courses to be later introduced based on industry feedback.

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Images credit: ©CHC

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