Architects: H2o architects
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Project team: Tim Hurburgh, Mark O’Dwyer, Alison Binks, Cameron Clifford, Vieri Nembrini, Ross Weeks, Justin Shu, Anne-Claire Devile, Susannah Lempriere, Chelsea Koh, Dean Hole, Christian Olevasen, Babak Kahvazadeh, Elin Persson, Kate Butler, Davin Smith & the Smith Lebbos Team, James Murray, Tim Hill & the Tandem Team
Client: Swinburne University of Technology
Project area: 19,000 sqm
Project year: 2007 – 2011
Photographs: Trevor Mein
The Swinburne University of Technology Advanced Technologies Centre (SUT ATC) is a cutting edge engineering focused facility for education and research, designed to be practical and flexible for future changes in education, while enriching and invigorating its occupants and the university.
This innovative facility is the home to the Brain Sciences Institute, Nanophotonics Applications Facility, Nanomaterials Research Facilities, Microfabrication & Microanalytical Facilities, Polymer Processing, Polymer Testing, Biomechanics, High Temperature Processing Laboratories, Centre for Ageing Measurement and Design Suite, Neuro Imaging Facility with MEG and MRI, Advanced Molecular and Proteomics Facility including PC3 & PC2 Laboratories. The Burwood Road frontage also includes the largest Strong Structures Laboratory in the southern hemisphere, that creates a three way fixing and testing facility for deforming and destructive testing of products from the construction, aeronautics, aerospace, automobile and manufacturing industries.
The building also has a 600 seat lecture theatre with retractable seating, flexible open access student common room computer labs, Wireless research computer laboratories, three floors of flexible teaching spaces and four levels of staff accommodation.
Function and Performance
Twin separated ten level towers hover behind dual three level podium structures addressing Burwood Road and continue the existing street scale. Precast concrete facades differentiate the building from the high rise glass boxes associated with commercial buildings and symbolising the building’s non-commercial nature.
The brief resulted in high rise towers designed with one ‘smart’ highly serviced tower for service intensive research uses and a ‘dumb’ tower for flexible, simple office and learning accommodation uses.
The Burwood Road frontage also includes the Strong Structures Laboratory with a one metre thick reinforced concrete floor below a pair of five metre high and one metre thick reinforced concrete walls, penetrated by a grid of steel sleeved holes, used for securing the test specimens or providing access for hydraulic actuators and universal testing machines of varying capacities from 10 tonnes to 500 tonnes. The laboratory is serviced by concrete lined sub floor access areas, workshops and hydraulic pumping facilities.
Circular patternation and circular glazing of the facade, strengthen the buildings appearance and reference the contemporary preference for non-rectilinear geometries, currently researched by the engineering community that occupies the building.
Glazed bridges provide variation to the internal journey within the building and activate the southern and northern facades with occupant movement patterns, providing visual contrast to the adjacent mass of the precast concrete facade panels.
Passive solar design results in shade creating circulation balconies to the north and minimised exposure to east or west solar loads.
The project was delivered on time, on budget, with superior quality, by the Architect as Principal Consultant and Superintendent, from a full set of documents issued to a lump sum tender.
By providing 19,000sqm of accommodation for the cost effective $75m construction cost, the facility is amongst the most cost effective highly serviced tertiary educational facilities in Australia.
Materials in the facility, particularly in the public circulation areas, are robust and self finished, with public domain hardiness – as a reference to village paths for this village in the sky. Exposed precast concrete panels, insitu concrete columns and exposed concrete flooring are often used to edge common high usage circulation spaces.