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The establishment of an interim sciences facility alongside the Albany campus Student Amenities Centre promises to not only make learning in laboratories more flexible, but also to enable space to be freed up for research purposes across the campus as the College of Sciences grows.
The ground floor will house three physics teaching labs and an equipment room, with one lab able to be transformed into a completely dark environment for optics experiments. The second level will have four biology labs of varying sizes with moveable walls to allow for increases and decreases in class sizes.
The ground floor will also be home to technicians and tutors who will operate and teach from the labs. Chemistry labs will remain at Oteha Rohe in the meantime.
Campus facilities director Alistair Allan says the project takes an intelligent approach to getting the most out of the building budget. “Having completed stage one of the Student Amenities Centre meant that the project costs for site development have already been accounted for. We won’t incur these costs again, so we get much more useable space from our project budget than if we construct a stand-alone building.”
He says moving the undergraduate science labs across to the East Precinct will improve student convenience by reducing the need for science students to travel between precincts, and free up some of existing teaching lab and support facilities in buildings 6,8,10 and 12 at Oteha Rohe.
Institute of Natural Sciences head Distinguished Professor Gaven Martin says recent research staff appointments and growing postgraduate student numbers as well as continuing undergraduate growth bodes well for Albany. “It also places increasing strain on our space resources. This project will go some way in addressing those issues.”
The new Bachelor of Natural Science degree offered at Albany will see a new cohort of students learn in a multidisciplinary context. The qualification, modelled on a highly respected Cambridge University degree, provides depth and breadth across science subjects – biology, physics, chemistry and mathematics – as well as project management, philosophy, communications and entrepreneurship.
Stage two of the building project has been dubbed interim because the longer-term plan remains for a purpose-built sciences facility to be constructed on the West Precinct.