05/10/2004 - 22:00

Educational designing

05/10/2004 - 22:00


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Architects Woods Bagot drew inspiration for its design of the $400 million College of Technology in Doha, Qatar from a Bedouin rug, Arabic text and an extract of the old Doha City street pattern.

Educational designing

Architects Woods Bagot drew inspiration for its design of the $400 million College of Technology in Doha, Qatar from a Bedouin rug, Arabic text and an extract of the old Doha City street pattern.

Perhaps the same level of creativity will not be as easily accepted for the design of the new University of Western Australia Business School, however, Woods Bagot partner Ross Donaldson said architecture in the educational sector had undergone some dramatic changes as a result of the impact of information technology.

“Education is going through some dramatic changes in the way that learning happens, and is now much more about student centred problem solving,” he said.

“Designs of educational institutions are changing dramatically as a result.

“Students can have laptops or PDAs, and most course work information and reference material can be accessed online – one of the key factors is that learning is becoming more social, and the learning environment needs to be more flexible and social as a result.”

Woods Bagot is one of Australia’s largest international architecture practices and Mr Donaldson heads the international education sector of the firm.

Consequently, the Perth office of Woods Bagot generates sizeable international projects, particularly in the Middle East.

Its projects there include master planning for the $1 billion National University of the United Arab Emirates.

“Perth’s relationship with the Middle East is very strong,” Mr Donaldson said.

“In summer there is a four hour time difference, which means a lot of the working day overlaps.

“The services sector to the Middle East easily outstrips primary industry in terms of gross export value.

“The fees we earned from the College of Technology in Qatar exceeded the value of the whole of the wool industry exports to the Middle East, and the export value of the entire agricultural sector to Qatar.”

Closer to home though, Woods Bagot will be designing the new School of Business at UWA, which is currently in a workshop and consultation stage.

“It is very worthwhile to help create earning environments and is a fantastically exciting area to be involved in,” Mr Donaldson said. “We have been working closely with staff and senior academics at UWA, and there has been a high level of interest and input on behalf of academic and administration staff.

“I believe any vibrant culture will build buildings of their time that express their era and identity.”

He said in Perth there was not a confidence that a future should be built, rather than reflecting the past.

“The Middle East want to build their future based on their heritage, and it is inspirational to see how His Highness the Emir of Qatar and his wife have taken on an extraordinary program to develop education at all levels in the country,” Mr Donaldson said.

He said the Sheik’s wife was the patron of a major nation building project to increase education at all levels and was commissioning high profile architects from around the world to build institutions to train nationals rather than expatriates.

“The scale of this nation building project is mind boggling – the population of Qatar is 750,000 and only 250,000 are nationals.

“Qatar has the highest gross national product per capita in the world, based on their extensive oil and gas reserves.”


Educational Design

  • Doha College design inspired by a Bedouin rug, Arabic text and the old Doha City streetscape.
  • Woods Bagot fees from the college exceeded the value of entire agricultural sector’s exports to Qatar.
  • The Perth office’s projects in the region also include master planning for the National University of the United Arab Emirates and the UWA Business School. 


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