Hedley Bull Centre

Hedley Bull Centre

“Our client asked us to design a building without dead ends…so we wrapped the program around a central atrium space and created a circulation system without beginning or end – as an endless ‘loop’.”

Corbett Lyon, Director of Lyons

The Hedley Bull Centre is a manifestation of our continual pursuit to reimagine academic spaces. A defining project for Lyons, our vision to break open conventionally siloed academic buildings comes to life in a design that promotes interactivity and connection between staff, students and visitors. Named after Hedley Bull, a professor of International Relations at the Australian National University (ANU), this project accommodates three Colleges specialising in international relations and comparative politics. Both internally and externally, our design places visitors in-the-round and focuses on negotiations of space, adapting, reflecting and shaping the DNA of the campus it inhabits.

  • Sector

    Education & Learning

  • Key Lyons contact

    Corbett Lyon

  • Client

    Australian National University

  • Location

    130 Garran Rd, Acton ACT 2601

  • Traditional land

    Located on the traditional lands of the Ngunnawal people

  • Size

    4,915 square metres

  • Project status

    Complete, 2007


2009 Australian Architecture Awards - ACT Chapter
    • W Hayward Morris Award for Interior Architecture

Enriching cultural


the Campus

“The building Lyons have designed is a radical departure from conventional academic building design. Gone are the conventional double-loaded corridors of closed doors. Overall, Lyons have designed a highly dynamic social space, that has met our highest expectations.”

Prof Chris Reus-Smit, Head of Department of International Relations (2007)

Establishing a new gateway to the campus

The Hedley Bull Centre transforms the arrival point of the Australian National University’s (ANU) campus, promoting interactivity between the building’s occupants in a hub for international studies. The building is designed to connect with the campus by echoing the surrounding building’s design features, whilst also carving out a precinct with bold external features. Located at one of the principal gateways to the ANU’s campus, the building marks the corner with a robust hexagonal form. The hexagonal form is inspired by the architecture of the adjacent HC Coombs Building, a building known for its distinctive shape and spiralling sets of internal stairs, also mirrored within the Hedley Bull Centre. The building’s exterior is tightly wrapped with digitally designed precast concrete panels with horizontal grooves. The contrasting interior spaces are lined with Australian timbers, drawing another reference to the landscape of the ANU campus.

Activating a social and academic space

Our design for the Hedley Bull Centre shapes an interconnected experience for teachers and students. The hexagonal floor plan generates a continuous ‘loop’ linking together a series of shared meeting, utility and group spaces on each level, promoting interactivity and exchange between occupants. Our design takes a traditional academic office with segmented spaces and dead end corridors and transforms it. A continuous loop design informs a collegiate model that encourages interconnection. The atrium space extends full height to become a social focus, opening up views through the various levels of the building. The Colleges are vertically interconnected by open timber stairs on each side of the building. Together with adjacent meeting spaces these become sites for informal interaction. The Centre’s main public spaces — the entry foyer, discursive teaching spaces, lecture theatre and café — are all located on the ground floor. Teaching facilities are placed shoulder to shoulder with social spaces to further activate the interior of the building.

Key Contacts

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