Footscray Nicholson Learning Commons


  • Cox Architecture
  • Isis
  • Umow Lai
  • Winward Structure


Footscray Nicholson Learning Commons encompasses the refurbishment of a 1980’s public works building. The project connects the campus, through a significant civic gesture with the goal of creating a new campus heart. A double height lane has been cut through the existing structure, connecting public space on each side. Curving the path of the lane has provided more street frontage for student services and learning environments. The sides of the lane merge and then part to create areas of different intensity and purpose, calm and active. The laneway references the scale and texture of Melbourne’s vibrant and intimate city lanes.

Key Features


The innovative response to the brief allowed for an economic and efficient transformation of an existing structure. Cutting of the existing waffle slab was carefully considered within the parameters of the structural system to create double height with a minimum of new support. The existing roof is opened with a vast skylight which illuminates the length of lane with natural light.

The Commons Lane provides an address for each of the campus services and a public realm owned by the students, while maintaining a cohesive identity for the space overall and a legibility that communicates with the diverse student cohort.

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