Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Funded by Rail Projects Victoria (RPV), North East Link and West Gate Tunnel, architect Grimshaw’s new Victorian Tunneling Center is a first in Australia as the only such facility where students can train in replicas of tunnels mined and drilled on the same site.
Located on the Drummond Street campus of the Holmesglen Institute in Chadstone, the new facility provides a state-of-the-art learning environment enabling people to be trained in underground construction and tunneling, and to develop the specialist skills required for critical city-shaping projects, such as The Melbourne Underground Tunnel, West Gate Tunnel, North East Link and Commuter Rail Loop.
Designed to simulate real-life scenarios, the center includes an exact replica of the railway tunnel with identical segments used on the metro tunnel, as well as a mined tunnel to introduce students to the general conditions of the underground tunnel.
To support this experiential learning, there are two multipurpose engineering work rooms, mixed reality experiences, and outdoor demo spaces.
To help boost the recruitment and retention of workers in the tunneling industry, the design approach aims to rebrand it for the 21st century, providing a sophisticated workshop that elevates the craft through the thoughtful application of materials and of the scale.
Lined with curved anodized aluminum panels, the section of tunnel that forms the entrance to the building defines the arrival space and announces the significance of the center’s learning offering and visitor engagement.
The large, open, column-free interior allows the center to adapt effectively to changes in the tunneling industry and in education and teaching practices.
The facade design offers a simple and economical solution, which uses insulated and translucent panel systems for rapid construction and optimum building performance.
Working closely with the client, the Grimshaw team evolved the brief and design response to deliver, on time and within budget, a streamlined, sophisticated and functional building that celebrates the workforce. highly skilled work that is expected to significantly shape Melbourne and Victoria.
Project: The Victorian Tunnel Center
General Contractor: INTREC Management Pty Ltd.
Client: Holmesglen Institute of TAFE and Rail Projects Victoria (RPV)
Photography: Derek Swalwell