Monash Centre for Electron Microscopy, Monash University, Victoria, Australia
Exemplary design categories: comfort, flexible learning settings, science laboratoriesHow the facility meets the needs of education and communities:
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.
Activity Areas: 9 laboratories for 8 electron microscopes and one atom probe; specimen preparation laboratories (microtoming lab, electro-polishing lab., general wet lab, clean workroom and dark room); office areas; computer classrooms; large meeting room and break-out area, with outdoor timber deck.
Project costs: AUD 14,000,000.00
Source: Submitted to OECD for "Designing for Education: Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities 2011" in 2010