The new Navitas Sydney campus has revolutionized student, staff and faculty wellbeing and positively impacted business performance. Designed by Bates Smart and located in Sydney’s CBD, it is the first vertical campus in Australia that blends education and commercial space. This emerging building typology allows education providers to stack workplace and learning spaces up instead of out, increasing business efficiencies and connectivity between different departments, classrooms and student-led areas.
One year after full occupancy, evidence of Navitas’ design success is striking. Utilisation of social spaces within the campus is up to 86%, an increase of 29 percentage points over social space utilisation in Navitas’ previous campuses.
Qualitative student and staff comments validate this increase in utlisation, with survey result responses including “I love to come down to campus. It’s fun to be here,” and “Students have reported coming in during their breaktimes because there are better spaces here than at home or in a library. The teaching staff really love it as well.”
In terms of facilities management, Navitas has reduced their classroom quantity by 32% while boosting their capacity for growth over 22%.
The Navitas Design
As leaders in education and workplace design, Bates Smart has identified parallel trends in both sectors that make the vertical campus an ideal building type that achieves better performance.
“Our education and workplaces are becoming denser, complex networked places that emulate the structure of a city,” says Philip Vivian, Director of Bates Smart. “Creative organisations are consciously breaking down physical silos and siloed thinking and behaviour. They are doing this in part through workplace and education designs that encourage connectivity, interaction and collaborative work. The vertical campus is one way to achieve these goals.”
At Navitas, this meant retrofitting 15 floors of an existing office tower to unite six business units in one facility—the same businesses previously occupied five different buildings. The design also introduces four modular classroom types, and it allocates 25% of the campus’ 17,300 square metres to student-led social and study spaces.
A central void, carved into levels 0 through 4, organises social spaces that vertically align all floors. Collaborative spaces for active engagement and socialising include a spiral stair on the lower levels, varied seating clusters and shared kitchens that face onto Hyde Park. Quiet, more intimate spaces where students can concentrate occupy the opposite side of the void and look out over city views.
The distinct separation of active and quiet spaces helps to increase overall collaboration and choice for Navitas students, who often stay on campus beyond their scheduled class sessions.
Bates Smart programmed Navitas’ classrooms to plug into the social and study space organisation. Large, high volume classrooms and a 200-seat lecture theatre occupy the building’s lower floors, with moveable furniture and technology to accommodate all teaching and learning styles.
Individual business units occupy the upper floors. These levels are programmed with smaller modular classrooms and open staff offices that eliminate closed, cellular offices—a standard in academic facilities—so that resources and technology can be more easily shared.
Vertical Campus Effectiveness
Bates Smart Studio Director Kellie Payne, who led Navitas’ design strategy, says the campus’ impressive performance metrics validate the vertical campus’ effective alignment with contemporary work values. “Education and workplace productivity is increasingly measured qualitatively and demands high emotional intelligence,” she says. “Campuses, therefore, need to focus on improving the experiential qualities if they want to improve their metrics.”
By prioritising vertical connectivity, zoned activity, social spaces and standardised-yet-flexible modular design, Navitas has created a new kind of campus for its business, one that fits changing marketplace and learning dynamics.