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Centre a symbol of community

by Michele Nardelli

Picture of the Mawson Centre central courtyard
Founded on an ideal, Mawson Lakes has evolved as a conscious community. The outward signs of change in the area – new housing, roads and the lakes – are really just the tip of the iceberg.

What underpins the Mawson Lakes development are some solid working partnerships – across the public and private sectors, across state and local government, across research and learning organisations and across the community and the environment – networks that are making a difference.

The new Mawson Centre will be opened and celebrated on May 19 as a symbol of a new kind of community engagement. The ideation of a unique partnership which includes the University of South Australia, the City of Salisbury, the SA Department of Education and Children’s Services and the Mawson Lakes Joint Venture, the new centre is a tangible symbol of Mawson Lakes as a community for the future – environmentally efficient, socially integrated and one focused on lifelong learning.

The Centre includes university teaching spaces side by side with spaces open to the community.

Architects Guida Moseley Brown, and Russell and Yelland in association, have developed a building that is environmentally and operationally efficient, has a civic presence and at the same time is open, inviting and vibrant.

Built on a north-south axis, a predominately glass façade has been used for three active zones of the building. The glass is complemented by the extensive use of recycled timbers for sun shade over the area, and appropriate tree planting for shade.

It includes UniSA’s 255-seat lecture theatre (also suitable for small community performances), a computer barn accessible to students around the clock, tutorial group discussion and presentation rooms, and the headquarters of the Division of Information Technology Engineering and the Environment (ITEE). It is also home to the administrative and information centre for the Mawson Lakes School and Education Service, and the Salisbury Council’s branch library. The community accessibility of the building is enhanced by a café, exhibition space and a courtyard.

In keeping with the environmental goals of the wider Mawson Lakes community, the building has been designed to make use of grey water and to monitor heating and cooling through a high-tech building management system with maximum efficiency.

ITEE Pro Vice Chancellor, Professor Robin King, says the transformation of the campus and the community has been exhilarating.

“The Mawson Centre literally positions UniSA at the hub of this vibrant and growing community of students, business and residents at Mawson Lakes,” he said.

“What has been achieved in the past five years is scarcely imaginable to those who knew the area before.”