Finalist 2020

Learning Lab

Museums Victoria / Grumpy Sailor / Denton Corker Marshall

Learning Lab is a holistic redesign of Melbourne Museum’s learning spaces and approach to lifelong learning.

Our desire to create a ground-breaking multi-sensory learning environment drove the design process. The space uses technology powerfully and flexibly to showcase immersive digital experiences with awe-inspiring wall and floor projections that take audiences on a journey and can transform to host innovative co-creative workshops that inspire audiences to act for a thriving future.

The Learning Lab connects museum collections, stories and First Peoples’ concepts of Deep Listening through multimedia, architectural and learning design setting a new benchmark in museum learning in Victoria.

Design Excellence

Consideration of the audience journey was at the centre of our experience design. High-quality multimedia technology, modular furniture, ample storage and soundproofing allow the Learning Lab to adapt to our audience\’s needs. This project celebrates the merging of digital, architectural and philosophical learning design. Our design process, led by museum educators, involved collaborating with digital designers, architectural designers and First Peoples’ collaborators for content design. Our learning philosophy outlines that interconnectedness is transparent via Deep Listening and creativity grows exponentially when collaborative. This is true for both our audience experience and our holistic, collaborative process from design through to delivery.

Design Impact

In keeping with best environmental design practices, material selections for the Learning Lab were made considering ecologically responsible production and recyclability, with the use of FSC certified timbers, resilient flooring made from a composite of cork and rubber, and the application of low VOC paints. Materials were minimised in their application to limit environmental footprint, and existing finishes were retained or uplifted where possible. The open plan, flexible approach, well-considered digital infrastructure coupled with First Peoples’ Deep Listening processes creates a space that can easily adapt to a variety of pedagogical models and integrates seamlessly into the Museum experience.

Design Transformation

Being the first-of-its-kind, the Learning Lab sets a precedent for the design of digital learning spaces in Victoria and worldwide. The care taken in the merging of digital, architectural, First Peoples’ learning processes and philosophical approaches to design at Melbourne Museum has transformed the types of educational experiences that can be delivered. Being on the ground floor and acting as a gateway to the museum, Learning Lab provides a fresh and relevant lens through which audiences can see the Museum in a different light. The flexibility of the digital projection canvas provides possibilities for future collaboration with Victorian digital artists.

Design Innovation

The Learning Lab sets a benchmark for digital learning in museums through its  bespoke projection system. The 27-metre wide projection surface spans three walls and the floor, with a resolution of over 10k in width, realised using 8 projectors and a custom 14-channel speaker arrangement. Never done before, this interoperable projection system can seamlessly switch to cast multiple digital devices onto the projection canvas enabling collaborative work, it can share immersive content in a digital showcase becoming an extension of the broader museum experience and the projection surface can show infinity projections that take audiences on a journey.

Other Key Features

The digital content created for the Learning Lab has been designed specifically for our bespoke projection space. For example, River Connections is a five-minute experience that takes audiences on a journey through the unique environment of the Murray River. It explores how all living things are connected and dependent on a healthy environment to thrive, however overuse of the waterways and pollution from human activities puts this at risk. Each scene, image and sound, as well as the overall structure, was developed through a consultative and collaborative process of Deep Listening sessions and visiting Elders on Country.

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