The Academy by BVN wins Lee J Brockway Award 2010, CEFPI International

Published: Monday 18 April 2011

The Academy sets a new standard for corporate education globally through the creation of an immersive environment that engages all senses to enhance learning.

The design team in conjunction with responsive environment artists and sonic specialists, worked collaboratively with NAB to create The Academy – a publicly accessible space, symbolising NAB’s belief in the potential of its employees and the communities NAB support. The space is dedicated to employee learning and development and community engagement – experienced in a unique, interactive environment with state-of-the-art technology. 

The project intent was to create ‘experiences’ not just spaces. The journey starts with the timber stair. Designed to slow the visitor down and open their mind, it physically cocoons you and a specially created soundscape linked to cameras responds to your rhythm. The unique spaces are supported by leading edge technology like the 18 metre panoramic simulation walls, as well as providing the ability to brainstorm and mind map on a wall and share your stories. Through the use of projection and sound, a ‘Parallel Wilderness’ has been created - a virtual eco-system which co-exists in the atrium space. The Parallel Wilderness grows and changes with the rhythm and energy of The Academy. The content is programmed to be self generating. 

Materiality of the 10 primary training spaces relates to the concept and designated learning style for the rooms helping deliver an experiential environment that enhances right brain activation:

A key principal of the space is to be inclusive. All participants join together on large tables for meals; gather together at the coffee cart and refill drink bottles at the same atrium fountain. Even the unisex toilet’s large washbasin encourages interaction. 

The adaptation of the existing building was fundamental to the design team’s sustainable approach. The Academy was also designed to allow for ongoing change. A fundamental principle was that every element or space should be able to do at least three things. All primary spaces except for ‘Vault’ take multiple modes of set up; providing NAB with considerable flexibility to cater for different training programs. 

The biggest challenge encountered was the client’s high aspirations – to create a new model / benchmark for corporate learning environments. From the outset, regular client meetings meant that NAB endorsed BVN’s approach throughout the journey and understood the solutions created. Investigation into new educational theories was undertaken and ideas generated were tested and discussed at client meetings in which further brainstorming and refining took place. Furthermore, by working with new cutting edge consultants such as Eness and Rumblefish fresh ideas were generated, especially regarding the use of technology. Every solution presented was questioned thereby lifting everyone’s expectations and ultimately raising benchmarks.

As well as the CEFPI awards received by BVN for The Academy, the project was also recognised in the following industry awards:

2010 IDA Corporate Design Category – High Commendation
2010 WAF Awards Interior & Fitout Category – Shortlist