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Architects Create A Unique User Experience For College Verandah Using Playful Palette Of Building Materials

James Cook University, JCU Verandah Walk, Wilson Architects, Alucobond PLUS naturAL Reflect, Photography Andrew Rankin
Wilson Architects recently completed the Verandah Walk, a pedestrian and cyclist link through the regional campus of James Cook University. The Verandah Walk South Node, the first stage of the project, connects the Education Central building and the campus’ Eddie Koiki Mabo Library.

The architects at Wilson describe, “The design creates a series of ‘nodal’ meeting and seating areas that encourage students to study, collaborate and socialize in an open-air landscaped setting. The Verandah Walk enhances the student experience and creates a sense of quality and permanence, previously lacking on the site.”

James Cook University, JCU Verandah Walk, Wilson Architects, Alucobond PLUS naturAL Reflect, Photography Andrew Rankin

The nearly 1,400-foot long Verandah utilizes green, mirrored and bold colored elements throughout. The curved, fluid motion mimics the surrounding landscape, which was intentional by the architects who believed a straight path to be too harsh. A fluid path creates an experience, “a journey instead of a destination,” they describe.

The architects add, “This project embraces and responds to the unique tropical narrative of the region, by considering light, shade, humidity, breeze, scent, water/rain, and color.”

James Cook University, JCU Verandah Walk, Wilson Architects, Alucobond PLUS naturAL Reflect, Photography Andrew Rankin

The walkway takes advantage of natural light and airflow to improve productivity. They explain “Increased access to daylight and fresh air circulation supports improved levels of concentration, cognitive function and mental well-being for students, staff and visitors.”

James Cook University, JCU Verandah Walk, Wilson Architects, Alucobond PLUS naturAL Reflect, Photography Andrew Rankin

Alucobond PLUS naturAL Reflect material, used to produce the project’s mirrored soffit, reflects the landscape and the Verandah’s visitors. Students may find some comfort in the reflective finishes’ playful nature, despite the rigors of student life.

Additionally, the architects designed amenities to further the user experience with integrated fountains that provide an oasis from the area’s intense climate by “…creating a cooling effect and atmospheric background noise,” Wilson Architects explain.

James Cook University, JCU Verandah Walk, Wilson Architects, Alucobond PLUS naturAL Reflect, Photography Andrew Rankin

Architects are intuitive in their ability to create structures that respond directly to the needs of their users. This is often seen in commercial/office spaces that respond to employee productivity or in a hospital environment responding to patient well-being but its also important in how educational design is approached.

Wilson Architects did a fantastic job at appealing directly to the Verandah’s users, students, who need communicative and social spaces to thrive in college. The Verandah Walk at JCU is a wonderful example of architecture’s ability to respond directly to the human beings it serves.

information courtesy of Wilson Architects

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