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UC students scale down to capture University transformation

Antony Perry

3 November 2016: The University of Canberra’s Bruce campus is changing, and a group of students have helped capture the beginning of the transformation in a new campus model.

The three-metre by four-metre representation of the campus and surrounding land was unveiled at the University’s annual Open Day in August and will be on display in Building 1 in early 2017.

It took four weeks to build, and culminated in the delicate placement of 9,000 tiny spruce dowels (similar in appearance to toothpicks) to represent the abundance of trees on the site.

The model captures the existing infrastructure, buildings and open spaces, as well as the various projects planned as part of the University’s campus development project.

Model buildings made from transparent acrylic have been included to indicate where the University of Canberra Public Hospital is being constructed as well as the proposed locations for other projects.

Architecture course convener Assistant Professor Erin Hinton led the project with assistance from industrial designers Tom Skeehan (construction manager) and Sam Tomkins (digital fabrication), both of whom are University of Canberra alumni. A group of architecture and industrial design students were also involved in the process.

“The project provided a unique opportunity for students to be exposed to the production of such a large-scale, highly detailed object,” Mr Tomkins said. “It provided an excellent teaching and learning tool for students.”

Master of Architecture student Mark Sidrak assisted with the project, which was built entirely using resources and technology available on campus.

Mr Sidrak worked closely with Mr Tomkins to turn two-dimensional digital contour drawings into three-dimensional scenes to create a smooth continuous topography across the model. This method of construction ensured the model was an accurate representation of the campus.

Mr Sidrack was also responsible for adding roads, building locations and trees (all 9,000 of them) to the digital drawing. The three-dimensional topography was then carved out of laminated timber boards to bring the model to life.

Industrial design students Josh Ratnam, Greg Manttan and Murray Rainey helped with the fabrication and detailing of the physical model.

Mr Sidrack, who has studied at the University since he enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture in 2010, said working on the project gave him an opportunity to extend himself.

“I’ve made models before but nothing like this one,” Mr Sidrack said.

“The models I’ve previously built have used layers, but this was the first time I’ve been involved in a topography project.

“UC creates a lot of opportunities for students to be involved in projects. You get to experience what your teachers are working on outside of the classroom. It’s not just theoretical work in the studio, it’s much more than that.”

While the model may look complete, it is still very much a ‘live’ project. The ongoing development of the campus will be reflected in the continuous development of the model.

Assistant Professor Hinton said students will be involved in all stages of the project.

“Stage two of the model involves the documentation and production of three-dimensional printed models of all of UC's existing buildings,” Assistant Professor Hinton said. “We have a group of architecture students already working on this.

“The model will also incorporate a series of mobile augmented reality overlays which will link to digital information. Student involvement in this type of innovative communication technology will provide them with a distinct advantage as they prepare for the profession.”