Melbourne School of Design

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Join us for an insight into the structural engineering design and challenges of the Melbourne School of Design.


When: 6:15pm, Monday, 1 May 2017

Where: Frederick Wood Jones Theatre (Building 181, Room E307), 3rd Floor, Medical Building, University of Melbourne, Parkville (near the corner of Grattan Street and Royal Parade)


This month our speaker will be Mr. Barry Roben, Director at Irwinconsult.

The Melbourne School of Design was awarded best education of healthcare structure at The Structural Awards November 2015 by the Institution of Structural Engineers. This was the first occasion on which a Melbourne building has won a category award, though the Westgate Bridge strengthening won the overall award.

Central to the brief was the concept that the building would itself be a case study, from which students could learn about structural engineering design and construction. The concept known as “Built Pedagogy”.

Through innovative use of timber, steel and concrete in several key structural elements, the designers were able to demonstrate the structural capabilities and qualities of these materials. Key features of the building include:

  • Exposed in-situ concrete beams and post-tensioned slabs that allow the building to perform significant floor spans and cantilevers,
  • A unique structural timber roof over the central atrium, from which is suspended a three storey ‘stalactite’ containing a series of studios,
  • A dramatic steel scissor staircase,
  • A 12m cantilever housing the staff offices,
  • Precast columns and core walls.

This seminar will present a case study on this project to illustrate the challenges in the structural engineering of this unique building.


Barry Roben is a Director at Irwinconsult with over 20 years’ broad experience in Australia and Ireland specialising in the design of architectural building structures. During his time at Irwinconsult he has led major successful projects such as the Royal Children’s Hospital, Bendigo Hospital, Monash, New Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, and Melbourne School of Design.

Barry seeks innovative solutions to structural engineering problems and pushes the boundaries of alternative materials, particularly timber. He has established a proven track record in scheming and delivering rational structural solutions for extremely complex buildings. Following a creative approach backed by a solid technical base, Barry’s structural design knowledge and experience encompasses a broad range of building types and structural systems.