Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investments

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Facility of the week

Monash Centre for Electron Microscopy, Monash University, Victoria, Australia

The MCEM is the only facility of its kind in Australia, with the most powerful FEG TEM microscope being one of only four globally and the only one outside North America. MCEM reveals how science can be given an immensely appealing human face that also meets the most stringent scientific standards. Much of the lab's scientific and educational processes occur through interaction and discussion, so it was important for design to facilitate and encourage this. Circulation is intentionally designed to promote crossing of paths; acknowledging that casual interaction and exchange of information is an important part of science. Physicists and PhD students use nine microscopes within darkened laboratories in the heart of the facility. Their work involves undertaking intense image analysis. Thus, the intention was to give them some relief from such visually tiring work by creating circulation and office spaces as light-filled, serene environments. Glass planks flank all the circulation paths, provide filtered light and a gentle connection with the activity outside the building. Externally, the façade allows passers-by to gain a sense of the movement and activity within the building without putting the students and scientists completely on display. The building has been successfully detailed to achieve an environment 100 times more stable than an operating theatre and quieter than a recording studio. The highest grade lab has achieved an ambient electromagnetic field of 0.05 mGauss - the lowest ever in Australia. Several facilities and departments of Monash University were involved in the planning of MCEM, including the Faculty of Science, Facilities and Services Division and the Vice Chancellor's Office.
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About this database

The OECD Centre for Effective Learning Environments (CELE) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) launched the “Database of Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investment” on 29 September 2011. It seeks to inform the planning, design, construction, management and evaluation of educational spaces, combining resources for strategic investment in educational infrastructure, with exemplary school and university facilities from all over the world.

Drawing on the output of a joint CELE/European Investment Bank project on “Strategic Investment Planning for Educational Infrastructure” and more than 60 exemplary schools and universities featured in CELE’s flagship publication, “Designing for Education: Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities 2011”, this database is a unique international resource for educators, designers, policymakers and researchers alike.

Users of the database are encouraged to add their own resource material, or submit new completed university or school projects for publication on the database. OECD and EIB welcome your input to our project!

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